April is Fair Housing month. With Spring quickly approaching and the moving season in full swing, there are several guidelines to follow when looking for a new place to live,especially when you are a person with a disability.

Federal law defines a person with a disability as, “Any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.” As a person with a disability, knowing your rights in housing is the first step to finding a place that will suit your needs and help you to get the modifications you may need. Regardless of whether you live in public or private housing, the following rights are lined out in federal law:

  • You cannot be discriminated against because of a disability. A housing provider may not impose different terms or conditions than those lined out for a person without a disability.
  • Housing providers are required to make reasonable accomodations for persons with disabilities. This includes changes in rules, policies, practices, or services so that a person with a disability will have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit or common space.
  • Housing providers are required to allow persons with disabilities to make reasonable modifications. The modifications would be a structural modification that is made to allow persons with disabilities to use and enjoy their housing and related faclities. These modifications are usually made at the resident’s expense.  Examples of a reasonable modification would include allowing a person with a disability to install a ramp, lower the entry threshold of a unit, or install grab bars in a bathroom.

SCIL offers assistance with understanding the Fair Housing laws and how to apply the legislation to your particular experience or situation. We can also help with finding accessible housing. You can check out housing resource lists at Housing – Accessible and Affordable.  The Fair Housing Act can come in handy when working with landlords or negotiating the purchase of a home. The Fair Housing Act covers almost all housing, with a few minor exeptions. In the Fair Housing Act, the following is prohibited based on a disability:

  • Refusal to rent or sell housing
  • Refusal to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions orpriviledges for sale or rental of adwelling
  • Provide different housing services orfacilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is availablefor inspection, sale, or rental
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell orrent or
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service related to the sale or rental of housing.

If you have a disability, it is also unlawful for a landlord to refuse to let a tenant make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the person with a disability to use the housing. The landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move. If you are in need of information for housing resources in your area or want to know more about your rights as a tenant, call SCIL and we can help. Join us May 3 from 1-3pm, when we will talk specifically about housing and the rights of persons with disabilities