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Disability Discrimination Claim Under PWDCRA Fails for Lack of ‘Connection With a Real Estate Transaction’

Premises Liability / October 21, 2020

Article 5 of Michigan’s Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, (“PWDCRA”), MCL 37.1101 et seq., forbids certain discriminatory acts in the housing context.

MCL 37.1502(1)(b) states that “[a]n owner or any other person engaging in a real estate transaction … shall not, on the basis of a disability of a buyer or renter … [d]iscriminate against a person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of a real estate transaction or in the furnishing of facilities or services in connection with a real estate transaction.”

MCL 37.1506a(1)(a) states that “[a] person shall not … in connection with a real estate transaction … [r]efuse to permit, at the expense of the person with a disability, reasonable modifications of existing premises occupied or to be occupied by the person with a disability if those modifications may be necessary to afford the person with a disability full enjoyment of the premises.”

In Kooman, the Plaintiffs sought to add a rail to the porch of their condominium unit – approximately seven years after purchasing it – to accommodate a disabled resident. Although the association approved the request, Plaintiffs claimed that the association unreasonably delayed approval contrary to PWDCRA. The Court of Appeals held that Plaintiffs did not have a PWDCRA claim because the accommodation request was not “in connection with a real estate transaction.”

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