Definition of Disability: Federal laws define 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."
general, a physical or mental impairment includes hearing, mobility and visual
impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex,
and mental retardation that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Major life activities include walking, talking, hearing, seeing, breathing, learning,
performing manual tasks, and caring for oneself.
Rights in Private and Public Housing: Regardless of whether you live in private
or public housing, Federal laws provide the following rights to persons with disabilities:
discrimination against persons with disabilities. It is unlawful for a housing
provider to refuse to rent or sell to a person simply because of a disability.
A housing provider may not impose different application or qualification criteria,
rental fees or sales prices, and rental or sales terms or conditions than those
required of or provided to persons who are not disabled.
housing provider may not refuse to rent to an otherwise qualified individual with
a mental disability because s/he is uncomfortable with the individual's disability.
Such an act would violate the Fair Housing Act because it denies a person housing
solely on the basis of their disability.
Requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations for persons with
disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is a change 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. A housing provider should do
everything s/he can to assist, but s/he is not required to make changes that would
fundamentally alter the program or create an undue financial and administrative
burden. Reasonable accommodations may be necessary at all stages of the housing
process, including application, tenancy, or to prevent eviction.
A housing provider would make a reasonable accommodation for a tenant with
mobility impairment by fulfilling the tenant's request for a reserved parking
space in front of the entrance to their unit, even though all parking is unreserved.
housing providers to allow persons with disabilities to make reasonable modifications.
A reasonable modification is a structural modification that is made to allow persons
with disabilities the full enjoyment of the housing and related facilities.
Examples of a reasonable modification would include allowing a person with
a disability to: install a ramp into a building, lower the entry threshold
of a unit, or install grab bars in a bathroom.
modifications are usually made at the resident's expense. However, there are resources
available for helping fund
building modifications. Additionally, if you live in Federally assisted housing
the housing provider may be required to pay for the modification if it does not
amount to an undue financial and administrative burden. For more information,
see the Reasonable Accommodations
section of the Section 504 Frequently Asked Questions page.
Requires that new covered multifamily housing be designed and constructed to
be accessible. In covered multifamily housing consisting of 4 or more units
with an elevator built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, all units must
comply with the following seven design and construction requirements of the Fair
Entrance on an Accessible Route
Accessible Public and Common-Use Areas
Accessible Route Into and Through the Dwelling Unit
Accessible Light Switches, Electrical Outlets, Thermostats, and Environmental
Reinforced Walls in Bathrooms
Usable Kitchens and Bathrooms
covered multifamily housing without an elevator that consists of 4 or more units
built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, all ground floor units must comply
with the Fair Housing Act seven design and construction requirements.
information on how to comply with the physical accessibility requirements of the
Fair Housing Act, visit the Fair Housing
Accessibility FIRST Web site.
requirements apply to most public and private housing. However, there are limited
exemptions for owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family
housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations
and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.
you live in Federally assisted multifamily housing consisting of 5 or more units,
5 percent of these units (or at least one unit whichever is greater) must meet
more stringent physical accessibility requirements. Additionally, 2 percent of
units (or at least one unit whichever is greater) must be accessible for persons
with visual or hearing disabilities. For more information,visit Section
504 Questions and Answers.
with Disabilities in Federally Assisted Housing: Federal law makes it illegal
for an otherwise qualified individual with a disability to be excluded, solely
because of his or her disability, from programs receiving federal financial assistance.
For more information on the rights of persons with disabilities in federally assisted
housing as well as the responsibilities of housing providers who receive federal
financial assistance, visit our Section
504: Disability Rights in HUD Programs site.
and Land Use: It is unlawful for local governments to utilize land use and
zoning policies to keep persons with disabilities from locating to their area.
For more information, see the Joint
Statement of DOJ and HUD on Group Homes, Local Land Use, and the Fair Housing
and Local Laws: Many states and localities have fair housing laws that are
substantially equivalent to the Federal Fair Housing Act. Some of these laws prohibit
discrimination on additional bases, such as source of income or marital status.
Some of these laws may impose more stringent design and construction standards
for new multifamily housing.
Americans with Disabilities Act: In most cases, the ADA does not apply to
residential housing. Rather, the ADA applies to places of public accommodation
such as restaurants, retail stores, libraries, and hospitals as well as commercial
facilities such as offices buildings, warehouses, and factories. However, Title
III of the ADA covers public and common use areas at housing developments when
these public areas are, by their nature, open to the general public. For example,
it covers the rental office since the rental office is open to the general public.
II of the ADA applies to all programs, services, and activities provided or made
available by public entities. This includes housing when the housing is provided
or made available by a public entity. For example, housing covered by Title II
of the ADA includes public housing authorities that meet the ADA definition of
"public entity," and housing operated by States or units of local government,
such as housing on a State university campus.
more information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, visit the Department
of Justice ADA Home Page.
a Complaint: To file a complaint or for information on how HUD processes housing
see Fair Housing-It's Your Right.