What is Housing Discrimination?
Housing discrimination occurs when a person is treated differently due to their race, color, religion, sex, family status, disability, national origin, or military status. Other additional characteristics may be protected in your local area, such as sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, etc.
Housing discrimination is illegal. The fair housing laws apply to landlords, sellers, brokers, lenders, insurance agents, neighbors, and other people in the housing industry.
Who is protected by the law?
The Federal Fair Housing Law defines a “disability” as “a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.” Under Fair Housing Laws, the definition of disability is very broad and does not just apply to someone with a physical disability or someone who receives Social Security Disability Income.
Some examples of disability include, but are not limited to, mobility impairments, mental health disabilities, developmental disabilities, sensory impairments, cancer, HIV/AIDS, autism, multiple sclerosis, and many more.
People with disabilities are entitled to enjoy their homes just as fully as people without disabilities might. In order to fully enjoy your home, it may be necessary to change a rule or policy or to make a physical adjustment to the property.
Additional Rights in Housing for Persons with Disabilities: Modifications & Accommodations
People with disabilities have the right to request reasonable modifications and reasonable accommodations needed to enjoy their home.
A Reasonable Accommodation is a change to a housing provider’s policy, practice, or procedure to provide equal access to the housing for a person with a disability.
Examples of Accommodations Include:
- Meeting a potential tenant who uses a wheelchair in a location other than the leasing office if the leasing office is not wheelchair accessible
- Permitting a service/companion/assistance/therapy animal in a unit with a “no pet” policy at no additional charge pet deposit or “pet rent” to the tenant
- Providing a designated parking spot for a tenant with a disability
A Reasonable Modification is a physical change to a unit to make it fully accessible to a person with a disability.
Examples of Modifications Include:
- Building a ramp over or next to a staircase
- Installing grab bars in showers
- Installing flashing lights for door bells and smoke detectors for Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing tenants
How to Request a Reasonable Accommodation or Modification
If you are in need of an accommodation or modification at your unit, you should make a request in writing to your housing provider identifying the request you need and that it is necessary because of your disability. Your housing provider CANNOT ask you questions about your diagnosis or the extent of a disability. Your housing provider CAN request documentation from a professional, such as a doctor, counselor, social worker, case manager, to support your request if the need for the request is not visible. You should be prepared to obtain this documentation upon making your request, or submit it along with your written request.
You could be responsible for the cost of any necessary modifications at your unit; your housing provider may only have a responsibility to permit your request, not pay for it. If you live in subsidized housing, public housing, or your housing provider receives federal funding, then the housing provider may be responsible for paying for the modifications. If you are using a Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8 Voucher), the housing provider is NOT responsible for paying for the modifications. If you have additional questions about who should pay for a modification, please contact us.
If you feel that you may have experienced housing discrimination based on your disability, or you are in need of an accommodation or modification, click here to request assistance, or call us at 330-376-6191 or toll-free at 877-376-6191. A counselor will be in touch to discuss your concerns.