Required safety upgrades for elevators are causing some building owners to declare that they are taking their elevators permanently out of service in occupied apartment buildings. If you are aware of such a situation, please review the attached information. If the buildings and/or tenants fall into any of the described categories, please contact the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is not permissible to take elevators out of service in federally subsidized housing, in multi-family buildings first occupied after March 13, 1991, or in non-subsidized buildings built and occupied before then which have disabled residents.
John Meade, Enforcement Branch Chief, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Chicago FHEO Center in an email dated February 15, 2013
I would not assume that federal regulations trump state law and building code unless there are circumstances as described below. At the very least, they would be in non-compliance with HUD regulations and accessibility standards. As for the reference numbers: try UFAS 4.1.2(5) which states that at least one passenger elevator shall serve each level in all multistory buildings and facilities (Section 504 refers to UFAS). There is no similar passage in the Fair Housing Act. However, Section 804(f)(7) defines “covered multifamily dwellings” (in pertinent part) as buildings consisting of 4 or more units if such buildings have one or more elevators. And Section 804(f)(3)(c) requires all covered units designed and built for fist occupancy after March 13, 1991 to be accessible to persons in wheelchairs. So, you could argue that covered dwellings cannot be made “non-covered” in buildings first occupied after March 1991 by taking elevators out of service – it would defeat the purpose of the Act’s accessibility requirements.
Ms. Erika Finkler, Acting Director, Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity Division, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Minneapolis Field Office in an email dated February 20, 2013