If you live with a disability, it is essential for you to know your rights when you rent a home or apartment. Disabled renters are protected by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Landlords and owners must not treat renters with a disability unfairly or infringe on their rights to live in their home with a disability.
The ADA and FHA cover a wide range of disabilities. The FHA considers mobility, hearing and visual impairments to be disabilities and also protects renters with chronic alcohol problems and mental disabilities.
A person does not need to be disabled and unable to work to be protected by these federal laws.
A landlord may not ask for more information about disability than they are entitled to by law and may not evict a tenant or reject them for housing by a disability. If you are being evaluated as a candidate for the house, a landlord can look at criteria such as financial information to determine whether or not they believe you will be a good tenant but may not consider information about a disability.
Landlords must make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities. For example, a landlord should provide wheelchair-accessible parking to tenants who need it.
Landlords do not have to provide accommodations that would be unreasonably expensive or substantially alter the structure of the housing unit.
If a tenant requires expensive modifications, landlords must allow the tenant to make reasonable changes at their own expense. A tenant must request prior approval before making changes to their dwelling.
In many cases, discriminatory practices come in the form of policies that affect people with disabilities disproportionately. For example, many people need to live with a service animal or a therapy animal to assist them with their disability.
Service animals are trained to do a specific task to assist individuals with disabilities while therapy animals help individuals with emotional disabilities enjoy their quality of life. A “no pets” policy can affect individuals who need an animal to live with them adversely.
There has been a lot of litigation in the last several years over service animals and therapy animals. If you are concerned about how your landlord has treated you based on a no pets policy, contact a disability rights lawyer for more information.
If you are being threatened with eviction, you may be able to assert a disability as a defense. Tenants who are aged 62 and older or who are blind or disabled may not be evicted after the expiration of their lease if the landlord owns five or more units but instead may only be removed “for the cause.”
A landlord may not ask for an extensive medical history and is only entitled to enough information to be put on notice of the nature of your disability.
An attorney experienced in disability law litigation may be able to assist renters who have questions about their rights. If you believe that your rights have been violated or if you have a question about disability law and renter’s rights, contact a lawyer today for a consultation.