Fair Housing Act – Covered Units

July 21, 2008

Question: Do all apartments have to comply with FHA requirements and clearances or can apartments funded with private money be exempt? For example, would all interior apartment doors need to comply with the 2′-10″ door width even for apartments funded with private money?

Scroll to the bottom for the short answer…

This is a common question.  The FHA design requirements apply to multi-family housing regardless of how it is funded.  There will be additional requirements for some federally funded facilities.  In a multi-story building without an elevator, the design requirements apply only to the units at grade (CAUTION: some buildings may have more than one floor at grade).  In a multi-story building with an elevator, all units on all floors are subject to the design requirements.

Dwelling units subject to the design requirements are referred to as “covered units”.  Covered units must comply with Design Requirements 2 thru 7.

Requirement 3 is “Usable Doors”.  Unlike an accessible door, a usable door does not require lever hardware or accessible maneuvering clearances.  Additionally, while an accessible door must have a clear width of 32″ minimum, a usable door has a clear width of 32″ nominal.   This permits the use of a 2′-10″ door with a 31-5/8″ clear opening.

Nom-i-nal, adj.

1. Not really.  The architect had a nominal understanding of the building code.

Actually, nominal is better defined as “so-called”, such as a 2×4 is actually 1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″.

All doors that require user passage within covered units shall be usable.  Doors serving shallow closets or other spaces that do not require user passage may have smaller doors.

I know this is a long way to answer the question above, but in short:

Yes, Yes.