FAQ: Housing

Question:

I rent housing and I have a disability that requires a modification in my housing situation. What action should I take, or information should I provide, to start the process for requesting a reasonable modification or reasonable accommodation?

Answer:

  • 1. Request the modification or accommodation from the housing provider. When you make this request, it is highly recommended that you make the request in writing. This would avoid any misunderstanding of what you are requesting from the housing provider.
  • 2. Engage in the interactive process to explain to the housing provider your request.
  • 3. In response to a request for a reasonable accommodation or modification, and if the disability is not obvious, a housing provider may ask for reliable disability-related evidence:
    • To verify that the person meets the FHAA's definition of disability (i.e. has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities).
    • That defines the necessary accommodation or modification.
    • Which shows the relationship between the person's disability and the necessity for the requested accommodation.

Question:

What are some unlawful actions against individuals with disabilities under the FHAA?

Answer:

  • Advertising the sale and rental of a dwelling in a discriminatory manner, such as saying "no wheelchair users are welcome at this property"
  • Refusing to sell or rent to someone because of their disability
  • Refusing to process the application of the potential buyer or renter because they have a disability
  • Probing to determine whether an applicant for a dwelling or an individual planning to reside in that dwelling has a disability or inquiring into the nature or severity of a disability
  • Discriminating against individuals with disabilities in the terms, conditions, or privileges of selling or rental of a dwelling, or in the delivery of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling (i.e. requesting a higher security deposit from a tenant who has asked for a reasonable modification).
  • Refusing, at the expense of the individual, reasonable modifications of the premises, occupied or to be occupied by a person with a disability when the requested modifications may be needed to provide a person with a disability full enjoyment of the premises of a dwelling. For example, a tenant may request to install grab bars in their bathroom. It would be illegal under the FHAA for the landlord to deny the tenant the right to install the grab bars as long as the tenant pays for it.
  • Refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when the accommodations requested may be needed to allow equal opportunity for the use and enjoyment of the dwelling unit, including public and common use areas.

Question:

What type of housing is covered by the Fair Housing Amendsment Act (FHAA)?

Answer:

The FHAA covers various types of housing, such as multi-family apartments, multi-family condominiums, town houses and Quadruplexes, which are for sale or for rent. There may be some exemptions to coverage under the FHAA. For example, the owner of a small rental building, who also lives in the same building, may not have to adhere to the FHAA as long as their advertising of the dwelling is not discriminatory in nature. For more information visit the FHAA regulations at: https://www.disability.gov/resource/understanding-the-fair-housing-amendments-act-fhaa/

Question:

What federal laws govern housing discrimination?

Answer:

There are three federal laws that govern housing discrimination in the U.S.: The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA), the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  The FHAA which is formally known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, is the predominant federal law concerning fair housing and housing discrimination. However, housing provided by state and local governments is covered under the purview of the ADAAA. The ADAAA prohibits discrimination against persons with the disabilities in the provision of services and benefits based on disabilities. Additionally, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits anyone who receives federal financial assistance from discrimination based on disability.