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When Mental Illness Issues Intersect with Harassment Claims

By Melissa Bauman Ward, Esq. 

WHEN IS A common area disturbance more than a passing nuisance? When a person who is mentally ill engages in harassing behavior toward others, thus elevating a simple argument into a fair housing claim. As with any situation where competing rights are involved, managing these situations requires a detailed analysis of what rights and obligations are in play and the best way to respond to the various needs while protecting the association from liability.

IS MENTAL ILLNESS A DISABILITY THAT REQUIRES REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION?

As a "housing provider" under fair housing laws, an HOA must provide reasonable accommodations to disabled persons. A mental illness or impairment constitutes a disability if the condition "substantially limits one or more major life activities (e.g., caring for oneself, speaking, learning, working); or the person has a record of such an impairment; or the person is regarded as having such an impairment.1 For our...

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