audio version (opens in a new tab)
Following up on
my blog article about building codes,
I am focusing today on the
As it pertains to people with disabilities. On September 17, 2019, the
conducted a webinar entitled
“The Fair Housing Act and Persons with Disabilities”.
The link above provides webinar recording and materials. I heard this archived webinar on June 7, 2021. In this blog post, I will summarize what I learned.
Fair Housing Act: An Overview
The presentation was made by one presenter, a representative from the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The presentation focused on housing rights for persons with disabilities. In general terms, fair housing means the ability to live where a person chooses. The Fair Housing Act was passed in the 1960’s. In 1988, the Fair Housing Amendments Act added people with disabilities as a protected group. Complaints about housing discrimination on basis of disability are accepted by the U.S. HUD. However, the amount of time to file a complaint may differ between the state and federal levels. Some examples of disability-based discrimination were then discussed.
The types of disability-related issues are broad. For example, a landlord could attempt to charge a higher deposit for someone using a wheelchair. Another example would be not providing a disability-related reasonable accommodation. The presenter also said that people with disabilities could be discriminated against in advertising (example: within walking distance). Housing discrimination could also happen if someone is penalized (retaliated against) for exercising their Fair Housing rights. Disability-related housing accommodations are also crucial.
Reasonable Housing Accommodations for People with Disabilities
A reasonable accommodation is defined as a change in services, policies, rules or practices. A renter must be allowed to modify the unit for disability accommodation. Examples include enlarging doorways, installing a ramp or using more accessible cabinets. When landlords receive financial assistance from the federal government, they are required to pay for disability accommodations. If the housing is privately-owned, the landlord does not need to pay for accommodations but must allow modifications to occur. The presenter stated that
housing accessibility guidelines
were created. For example, Reinforcements behind walls must exist in case a person with a disability requires grab bars. Additionally, thermostats and light switches must be reachable. Some miscellaneous material was covered.
A housing provider can include home-owners association. Disability accommodations are legally required to be allowed. For example, service animals must be permitted in a housing unit. A service animal is not required to be certified, but it must have all necessary shots. People with mental disability cannot be discriminated against in housing. If there is reluctance to rent to someone with an invisible disability, any direct threat evaluation conducted must be objective. In such situation, it is important to determine if an accommodation can resolve any possible threat. During the question-and-answer section, the presenter provided information about filing a complaint with HUD. Bottom line: learning factual information in advance can be useful.
If you experienced disability-related housing discrimination, what happened? I will return with another article.