Who Is Considered Disabled?
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against individuals who are disabled or who are associated with people with disabilities. Under the law, a person is disabled if he or she has a physical or mental disability that affects a major life activity, has a record of having such a disability, or is regarded as having a disability. Examples of disabilities include:
- Hearing, mobility, and visual impairments
- Chronic mental illness
- Developmental disabilities
- Alcoholism and past drug use
Does Housing Have to be Accessible?
The Fair Housing Act requires multi-family housing built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, to have certain accessibility features. Some housing may also be subject to accessibility requirements of other laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), local building codes, and other laws. In addition, disabled individuals can request reasonable accommodations and modifications. If you have questions about accessibility, contact the Fair Housing Enforcement Project.
What is a Reasonable Accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is a change in a rule, policy, practice, or service that allows a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a home. Examples of reasonable accommodations include:
- allowing an assistance animal, despite a no-pet policy;
- allowing a tenant to have a live-in aide who is not on the lease to assist with daily care;
- assigning a reserved parking space to a tenant with a mobility impairment, even if parking is typically “first come/first serve.”
What is a Reasonable Modification?
A reasonable modification is a physical change to a unit or common area that allows a person with a disability to fully utilize the premises. In situations involving a private landlord, the person making the request must pay the cost of the modifications. Examples of reasonable modifications include:
- installing a ramp;
- installing grab bars in the bathroom;
- widening doorways;
- lowering countertops;
- installing lever door handles.