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Ms. Tankson on her wheelchair ramp.

Tankson v Randolph Court

#W17-09 | Location: Ann Arbor | Court Level: Federal | Settlement: Non-disclosed

Categories: Physical Disability, Rental
Tags: Ramp, Reasonable Accommodation, Wheelchair

Sarah Tankson, who has a debilitating neurological disorder known as dystonia and uses a wheelchair, contacted the Fair Housing Center in January 2017 for help with a request for reasonable accommodation. Prior to signing a lease at Randolph Court in Ann Arbor, she was told in writing that she could install a wheelchair ramp at her unit in order for her to get into her home.

According to the lawsuit, once Ms. Tankson moved in, Randolph Court Apartments management told her that she must remove her temporary ramp and stow it away after each use. Because it was not possible for her to stow and then reconstruct the ramp each time she needed to use it, she and her aide complied by removing the materials, thus forcing Ms. Tankson to remain shut in her apartment or crawl out of her unit on days she required outside care. Ms. Tankson missed many medical appointments as a result of being unable to safely leave her apartment, which caused the symptoms of her disability to worsen.

This dire situation forced Ms. Kelsey to redouble her effort to locate a contractor to install a temporary, removable wheelchair ramp. Thanks to the televised news coverage, a volunteer contractor agreed to construct and install the ramp, and raised contributions to cover the cost of the ramp. Randolph Court management, however, would not allow the ramp until it received and approved the plans. Management contacted Ms. Tankson on March 2, 2017, stating she could have a temporary ramp installed only if she moved into a different apartment unit, because they did not want any bushes removed or to have the ramp go across the walkway in front of her home. Randolph Court management continued to delay the installation of the ramp by refusing to grant approval, even going as far as to turn away the contractor after he came out to install it and attempting to pressure her into moving without covering moving costs.

Only after repeated intervention by the Fair Housing Center, as well as local media coverage, did Randolph Court allow the ramp installation. The case was filed in Federal Court, settled for a non-disclosed amount, and Sarah can now access her home.

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