Let Me In! What you should know about the Fair Housing Act and disability

Northeast ADA Center Staff April 14, 2016

key in door lock

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all types of housing transactions. The Act defines persons with a disability to mean those individuals with mental or physical impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities. The term mental or physical impairment may include conditions such as blindness, hearing impairment, mobility impairment, HIV infection, alcoholism, drug addiction, chronic fatigue, learning disability, head injury, and mental illness. The term major life activity may include seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for one's self, learning, speaking, or working. The Fair Housing Act also protects persons who have a record of such an impairment, or are regarded as having such an impairment.
Often the Northeast ADA Center receives calls from individuals seeking guidance on issues they experience from their home owner or condo associations. Association boards will deny accommodation and modification requests as they believe that their policies safeguard them from doing so or feel that there is no law that requires them to do so. Requests may include building a wheelchair ramp on a home, installing grab bars in common hallways, or allowing for reserved parking closest to a persons living unit. 
In fact, courts have applied the Act to individuals, corporations, associations and others involved in the provision of housing and residential lending, including property owners, housing managers, homeowners and condominium associations, lenders, real estate agents, and brokerage services.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a joint statement clarifying reasonable modification under the Fair Housing Act. It provides clarification on various housing issues and guidance on who is covered and what the responsibilities are for housing providers. 
You can read the joint statement at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/disabilities/reasonable_modifications_mar08.pdf
Do you feel that you or someone you know is being discriminated against in housing? There are several ways that a person may file a complaint with HUD: 
• By placing a toll-free call to 1-800-669-9777 or TTY 1-800-927-9275; 
• By completing the “on-line” complaint form available on the HUD internet site: http://www.hud.gov; or 
• By mailing a completed complaint form or letter to:

Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Department of Housing & Urban Development 451 Seventh Street, S.W., Room 5204 Washington, DC 20410-2000

To learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act and other topics visit us at Northeastada.org

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