FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
questions and answers focus on the requirements of one specific
law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.
This law often is called simply "Section 504." Section
504 is not the only law that prohibits disability discrimination
in programs receiving HUD funds or financial assistance. Other Federal
laws that provide nondiscrimination on the basis of disability include
the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the
Architectural Barriers Act. We encourage persons with disabilities
and recipients of HUD assistance to review all these laws by returning
to HUD's "People with Disabilities" Web site.
the links below to specfic questions and answers grouped by category:
What is Section 504?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states: No otherwise
qualified individual with a disability in the United States. . .shall,
solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation
in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination
under any program, service or activity receiving federal financial
assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive
agency or by the United States Postal Service. (29 U.S.C.
794). This means that Section 504 prohibits discrimination
on the basis of disability in any program or activity that receives
financial assistance from any federal agency, including the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as in
programs conducted by federal agencies including HUD.
Are there regulations that explain what needs to be done in order
to comply with Section 504?
Yes. HUD's regulations for Section 504 that apply to federally assisted
programs may be found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 24 CFR
Part 8. There are also regulations that govern Section 504 in programs
conducted by HUD which may be found at 24 CFR Part 9, however, this
Web site focuses on Section 504's requirements for federally assisted
programs, services and activities.
Who is protected by the Law?
Persons with disabilities.
How is disability defined?
An individual with a disability is any person who has a physical
or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major
life activities. The term physical or mental impairment
may include, but is not limited to, conditions such as visual or
hearing impairment, mobility impairment, HIV infection, mental retardation,
drug addiction (except current illegal use of or addiction to drugs),
or mental illness. The term major life activity may
include seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks,
caring for one's self, learning, speaking, or working. Section 504
also protects persons who have a record of such impairment, or are
regarded as having such an impairment.
Who are recipients of federal financial assistance?
The Section 504 regulations define recipient as any
State or its political subdivision, any instrumentality of a state
or its political subdivision, any public or private agency, institution
organization, or other entity or any person to which federal financial
assistance is extended for any program or activity directly or through
another recipient, including any successor, assignee, or transferee
of a recipient, but excluding the ultimate beneficiary of the assistance.
24 CFR 8.3. Thus, a HUD funded public housing authority, or a HUD
funded non-profit developer of low income housing is a recipient
of federal financial assistance and is subject to Section 504's
requirements. However, a private landlord who accepts Section 8
tenant-based vouchers in payment for rent from a low income individual
is not a recipient of federal financial assistance. Similarly, a
family that receives Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) or
HOME funds for the rehabilitation of an owner-occupied unit is also
not a recipient because it is the ultimate beneficiary of the funds.
What discriminatory practices does Section 504 prohibit?
Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability
in any program, service, or activity that receives federal financial
assistance. This means, for example, that persons with disabilities
may not be denied the opportunity to participate in a program, service,
or activity; may not be required to accept a different kind or lesser
program or service than what is provided to others, and may not
be required to participate in separate programs and services, even
if separate programs and services exist. In general, with respect
to housing, it means that a housing provider may not deny or refuse
to sell or rent to a person with a disability, and may not impose
application or qualification criteria, rental fees or sales prices,
and rental or sales terms or conditions that are different than
those required of or provided to persons who are not disabled. Housing
providers may not require persons with disabilities to live only
on certain floors, or to all live in one section of the housing.
Housing providers may not refuse to make repairs, and may not limit
or deny someone with a disability access to recreational and other
public and common use facilities, parking privileges, cleaning or
janitorial services, or any services which are made available to
other residents. People with disabilities may not be denied the
opportunity to serve on planning or advisory boards because of their
Does Section 504 require a housing provider to accept every person
with a disability who applies for the housing?
Section 504 does not require that a person with a disability be
accepted without regard to eligibility requirements or his or her
ability to meet standard, nondiscriminatory tenant selection and
screening criteria. Rather, Section 504 requires that a person with
a disability be evaluated using the same objective criteria that
are applied to persons without disabilities. Applicants, with or
without a disability, may be rejected if they have a record of adversely
affecting others such as disturbing neighbors, destroying property,
or failing to pay their rent on time. However, under Section 504,
the housing provider must make sound and reasonable judgments based
on objective evidence (current conduct or a history of overt acts).
Subjective fears, unsubstantiated rumors, speculation and generalized
suspicion do not constitute objective information that an applicant
cannot meet the terms of tenancy.
May a recipient refuse to rent to a person with a mental disability
because he is uncomfortable with the individual?
No. Section 504, and related laws like the Fair Housing Act, make
it unlawful for a housing provider to refuse to rent to a person
simply because of a disability. Therefore, a housing provider may
not refuse to rent to an otherwise eligible individual because of
fears or concerns that may be based on myths or stereotypes about
persons with mental disabilities.
May a landlord charge a person who uses a wheelchair a higher
security deposit because of concerns about damage to the dwelling
No. A wheelchair user is no more likely than anyone else to cause
damage, beyond typical wear and tear, to a dwelling unit. However,
if a person who uses a wheelchair does cause damage to a unit that
is beyond normal wear and tear, whether the damage is related to
the wheelchair or not, that individual may be required to cover
such damage out of a standard security deposit that is charged to
What limits does Section 504 impose on the ability of federally
assisted housing providers to require persons with disabilities
to live in segregated housing, i.e., housing for elderly
and/or disabled individuals.
Section 504 limits housing providers from providing, or requiring
persons with disabilities to accept, housing that is different or
separate, and instead, requires that housing programs be integrated
and offer the same benefits as provided to persons without disabilities,
with only a few limited exceptions. These exceptions are (1) when
it can be demonstrated that such segregation is necessary in order
to provide persons with disabilities housing that is as effective
as housing that is provided to others, or (2) when authorized by
a Federal statute, such as the Housing Opportunities for Persons
with AIDS (HOPWA) program, or the Section 811 Supportive Housing
Program for Persons With Disabilities. Even under these programs,
however, there are suggested options for providing the program in
an integrated setting, such as scattered site units.
What must a federally assisted housing provider consider to assure
that housing is provided in the most integrated setting appropriate?
One of the basic tenets of Section 504 is that programs and services
be conducted in the most integrated setting appropriate. In terms
of housing, this means that the housing provided to disabled individuals
is not separate or unnecessarily segregated. In other words, accessible
units in a single elevator building should be located throughout
the building, and not just on the first floor. In projects having
multiple buildings, accessible units also should be interspersed
throughout these buildings, rather than in just one or two buildings.
For example, in housing serving elders and persons with disabilities,
persons with mental disabilities or any other disabilities may not
be segregated on any one wing, floor, or in one building.
What steps must recipients take to ensure that information about
their programs and services, and their communications with applicants
and program participants, are accessible?
The Section 504 regulations require recipients to take steps to
ensure effective communication with applicants, beneficiaries, and
members of the public (24 CFR 8.6). This may include, but is not
limited to, conducting outreach in a manner that will reach persons
with disabilities, such as by working with State and local organizations
that serve or represent persons with disabilities, and ensuring
that information about their programs is disseminated in a manner
that is accessible to persons with disabilities. For example, special
communication systems (e.g., TTY for persons who are hearing or
speech impaired, materials on tape or in Braille) can greatly increase
the effectiveness of outreach and ongoing communication.
How are recipients supposed to deal with the following fire emergency
issues in a high-rise building: (1) If a HUD recipient cannot control
where persons with disabilities live, during a fire, how do these
tenants escape from a 14th floor unit? (2) If a HUD recipient cannot
give out a list of where persons with disabilities live, how do
rescue teams know where to go?
The recipient must permit the applicant to take responsibility for
his/her own safety. Thus, an applicant with a disability may choose
not to live above the ground floor because of possible inability
to escape a fire. On the other hand, the applicant must be allowed
to decide whether the opportunity to live in a 14th floor dwelling
unit outweighs whatever safety concerns may exist.
HUD recipient should have an emergency evacuation plan for each
of its buildings. In the preparation and updating of this plan,
the HUD recipient should inform residents that with the resident's
consent, they will provide information to the fire department which
identifies residents with special needs in case of an emergency
evacuation. Applicants should be given the opportunity to decide
whether they want the recipient to provide this information to the
fire department. The HUD recipient may share this information with
the local fire and police departments provided consent is given.
What is meant by program accessibility?
Program accessibility means that a program, when viewed in its entirety,
is readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
It applies under Section 504 to existing housing and non-housing
programs. The concept recognizes that there may be some limits to
the degree to which existing housing programs can be made accessible.
Thus, under the concept of program accessibility, not every single
building must be accessible, or every single dwelling unit, but
there must be sufficient accessibility so that persons with disabilities
have an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the
program and the same range of choices and amenities as those offered
to others. However, recipients must take steps to ensure that their
programs and services are readily accessible to and usable by persons
with disabilities to the maximum extent feasible, which means the
recipient would be required to take all steps that provide the necessary
access, but which would not constitute an undue financial and administrative
burden, or require a fundamental alteration in the nature of the
program. Achievement of program accessibility does not exempt recipients
from meeting other requirements of the Section 504 regulations,
particularly the broad nondiscrimination provisions, and the requirements
that dwelling units be dispersed throughout buildings and sites.
Likewise, recipients whose programs involve new construction or
alterations, must meet the Section 504 regulation's requirements
for those activities, as well as meeting other applicable requirements
in the regulations, such as for dispersion of accessible units throughout
buildings and sites.
How can a recipient ensure that its existing housing or non-housing
program meets the program accessibility provisions of the Section
Here are some examples:
To the maximum extent feasible, distribute accessible units throughout
projects and sites, and make them available in a sufficient range
of sizes and amenities so as not to limit choice.
Adopt suitable means to assure that information regarding
the availability of accessible units reaches eligible individuals
with disabilities. Recipients must also take reasonable non-discriminatory
steps to maximize use of such units by eligible individuals.
When an accessible unit becomes vacant, before offering
the unit to an individual without a disability, offer the unit:
first, to a current occupant of the project requiring the unit's
accessibility features; and second, to an eligible qualified applicant
on the waiting list requiring the accessibility features.
When an applicant or tenant requires an accessible feature or policy
modification to accommodate a disability, a federally assisted housing
provider must provide the feature or policy modification unless
doing so would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature
of its program or an undue financial and administrative burden.
See 24 CFR 8.4, 8.24, and 8.33 for further requirements and guidance.
Recipients must ensure that activities and meetings are
conducted in accessible locations.
When a wheelchair accessible unit becomes available should it
be offered to the first applicant on the waiting list, or the first
person with a disability who requires the accessible features?
HUD's Section 504 regulations at 24 CFR 8.27 require recipients
to take reasonable steps to assure that information on available
accessible units reaches otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities
who need the features of those units. The regulations provide that
whenever a unit that meets the requirements of the Uniform
Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) for a mobility-impaired
person becomes available for occupancy, a recipient shall first
offer the unit to a qualified individual with disabilities currently
residing in a non-accessible unit in the same project or comparable
projects, under common control, who requires the accessible features.
If there are no such persons currently residing in the recipient's
projects, the recipient shall then offer the unit to the next available
qualified individual with disabilities on its waiting list, provided
that the person requires the accessibility features of the unit.
The recipient shall skip over non-disabled applicants on the waiting
list to offer the unit to the next qualified individual who requires
the unit's accessibility features.
no qualified applicant with disabilities requires the accessible
features of a unit, and the recipient places a family where none
of the family members have disabilities in that unit, the recipient
may include language in the lease requiring this family to agree
to move to a non-accessible unit, as soon as one becomes available
that otherwise meets the family's needs.
FEDERALLY ASSISTED NON-HOUSING FACILITIES
How does Section 504 affect the operation of a non-housing facility
or program operated by a recipient of federal financial assistance?
All of Section 504's nondiscrimination, program accessibility, and
reasonable accommodation requirements that apply to housing facilities
and programs apply equally to the operation of non-housing facilities
or programs. (24 CFR. 8.21)
Question: What requirements does Section 504 impose on
new construction or alteration of existing non-housing facilities
operated by a recipient of federal financial assistance?
New non-housing facilities constructed by recipients of federal
financial assistance must be designed and constructed to be readily
accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. Alterations
to existing facilities must, to the maximum extent feasible, be
made accessible to ensure that such facilities are readily accessible
to and usable by persons with disabilities. [24 CFR 8.21(a) and
(b).] In addition, each existing non-housing program or facility
must be operated so that, when viewed in its entirety, the program
or activity is readily accessible to and usable by persons with
disabilities. [24 CFR 8.21(c).] For example, a newly constructed
day-care center that is provided for use by residents of a housing
project, must meet the design and construction requirements of the
In addition, once the facility is completed, it would, of course,
have to be operated in a non-discriminatory manner.
What is a reasonable accommodation under Section 504?
A reasonable accommodation is a change, adaptation or
modification to a policy, program, service, or workplace which will
allow a qualified person with a disability to participate fully
in a program, take advantage of a service, or perform a job. Reasonable
accommodations may include, for example, those which are necessary
in order for the person with a disability to use and enjoy a dwelling,
including public and common use spaces. Since persons with disabilities
may have special needs due to their disabilities, in some cases,
simply treating them exactly the same as others may not ensure that
they have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
order to show that a requested accommodation may be necessary, there
must be an identifiable relationship, or nexus, between the requested
accommodation and the individual's disability. As discussed in the
next question and answer, what is reasonable must be determined
on a case-by-case basis. However, experience has shown that the
following examples are often reasonable accommodations.
A federally assisted housing provider has a policy of not providing
assigned parking spaces. A tenant with a mobility impairment, who
has difficulty walking, is provided a reasonable accommodation by
being given an assigned accessible parking space in front of the
entrance to his unit.
A federally assisted housing provider has a policy of requiring
tenants to come to the rental office to pay their rent. A tenant
with a mental disability, who is afraid to leave her unit, is provided
a reasonable accommodation by being allowed to mail her rent payment.
A federally assisted housing provider has a no pets policy. A tenant,
who uses a wheelchair and has difficulty picking up items off the
ground, is allowed to have an assistive animal that fetches things
for her as a reasonable accommodation to her disability.
An older tenant has a stroke and begins to use a wheelchair. Her
apartment has steps at the entrance and she needs a ramp to enter
the unit. Her federally assisted housing provider pays for the construction
of a ramp as a reasonable accommodation to the tenant's disability.
How do you determine whether a request for a certain accommodation
Whether a particular accommodation is reasonable depends
on a variety of factors and must be decided on a case-by-case basis.
The determination of whether a requested accommodation is reasonable
depends on the answers to two questions. First, does the request
impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the housing
provider? Second, would making the accommodation require a fundamental
alteration in the nature of the provider's operations? If the answer
to either question is yes, the requested accommodation is not reasonable.
However, even where a housing provider is not obligated to provide
a particular accommodation because the particular accommodation
is not reasonable, the provider is still obligated to provide other
requested accommodations that do qualify as reasonable. For example:
a result of a disability, a tenant is unable to open the dumpster
provided by his housing provider for his trash. The tenant requests
that the housing provider send a maintenance staff person to collect
his trash from his apartment daily. Because the housing development
is a small, low-budget operation and the maintenance staff are
not on site daily, it is an undue financial and administrative
burden for the housing provider to provide daily trash service
to the tenant and the housing provider may refuse to provide the
requested accommodation. However, the housing provider is obligated
to provide the tenant with a requested alternative accommodation
- providing either an open trash can or placing a trash can which
the tenant can open in an accessible location so that the tenant
can dispose of his trash.
What happens if providing a requested accommodation involves
some costs on the part of the federally assisted housing provider?
Section 504 requires that in making an accommodation, a federally
assisted housing provider will be required to bear costs which do
not amount to an undue financial and administrative burden. In application,
this means that such a housing provider may be required to spend
money to provide legally required reasonable accommodations.
When and how should an individual request an accommodation?
An individual with a disability should request an accommodation
as soon as it appears that the accommodation is needed. However,
requests may be made at any time. For example, requests may be made
when an individual is applying for housing, entering into a lease,
or occupying housing. Individuals who become disabled during their
tenancy may request accommodations, even if they were not disabled
when they signed their leases.
504 does not prescribe a uniform procedure for requesting a reasonable
accommodation to be used with all housing providers. To request
an accommodation, an individual need not mention Section 504 or
use the phrase reasonable accommodation. In general,
a tenant or prospective tenant should make clear to the housing
provider that s/he is requesting that an exception, change, adjustment,
or modification be made to a rule, policy, practice, service, building
or dwelling unit because s/he has a disability. S/he should explain
what type of accommodation is requested and explain the relationship
between the requested accommodation and his or her disability. In
order to facilitate the process and consideration of the request,
tenants or prospective tenants may wish to check with a housing
provider in advance to determine whether that housing provider has
established any specific procedures regarding requests for reasonable
accommodation. Although the Section 504 regulations do not require
it, it is usually helpful that the request be made in writing, so
there will be documentation that the request was actually made in
the event of a later dispute.
Must a federally assisted housing provider adopt formal procedures
for processing requests for a reasonable accommodation?
No. Section 504 does not require that a housing provider adopt any
formal procedures that an applicant for housing or a tenant must
follow to request a reasonable accommodation. However, having such
a procedure will probably aid both the individual in making the
request and the housing provider in assessing it and responding
to it in a timely fashion.
Is a federally assisted housing provider obligated to provide
an accommodation to a tenant or applicant if s/he has not requested
No. Such a housing provider is only obligated to provide an accommodation
if s/he is on notice of the request. However, a person with a disability
will be considered to have asked for an accommodation if s/he indicates
that a change or exception to a policy, practice, or procedure or
a modification would assist him or her in making more effective
use of his or her housing, even if the words reasonable accommodation
are not used as part of the request.
What happens if a federally assisted housing provider fails to
act on a request for an accommodation?
If a housing provider delays responding to a request for an accommodation,
after a reasonable amount of time, that delay may be construed as
a failure to provide a reasonable accommodation. A tenant or applicant
may choose to seek legal assistance or file
a complaint with HUD. For further information, please see the
section of this Web site that describes the complaint process.
When can a federally assisted housing provider insist on an alternative
to the accommodation requested by a tenant?
If the housing provider believes the requested accommodation is
unreasonable, the housing provider may, but is not required to,
propose a substitute accommodation. In doing so, the housing provider
should give primary consideration to the accommodation requested
by the tenant or applicant because the individual with a disability
is most familiar with his or her disability and is in the best position
to determine what type of aid or service will be effective. If the
housing provider suggests an alternative accommodation, the tenant
may reject it if s/he feels it does not meet his or her needs.
With respect to Section 504's requirements, what is an accessible
The Section 504 regulations define an accessible dwelling unit as
a unit that is located on an accessible route and can be approached,
entered, and used by individuals with physical disabilities. A unit
that is on an accessible route and is adaptable and otherwise in
compliance with the standards set forth in 24 CFR 8.32 is accessible.
In addition, the Section 504 regulations impose specific accessibility
requirements for new construction and alteration of housing and
non-housing facilities in HUD assisted programs. Section 8.32 of
the regulations states that compliance with the appropriate technical
criteria in the Uniform
Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), or a standard that is
equivalent to or stricter than the UFAS, is an acceptable means
of meeting the technical accessibility requirements in Sections
8.21, 8.22, 8.23 and 8.25 of the
Section 504 regulations.
What accessibility requirements must a new federally assisted
housing development meet in order to be in compliance with Section
For a federally assisted new construction housing project, Section
504 requires 5% of the dwelling units, or at least one unit, whichever
is greater, to meet UFAS or a standard that is equivalent or stricter,
as explained in the question and answer above this one, for persons
with mobility disabilities. An additional 2% of the dwelling units,
or at least one unit, whichever is greater, must be accessible for
persons with hearing or visual disabilities.
Are there other accessibility requirements that apply to federally
funded new construction?
Answer: If a new construction project has four or more dwelling
units and is built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, it
is also subject to the accessibility and adaptability requirements
of the FHAct, regardless of whether it receives federal financial
assistance. The FHAct's accessibility requirements are not as strict
as those for Section 504 and the UFAS, however, the FHAct's accessibility
requirements apply to a broader number of dwelling units. Under
the FHAct's new construction requirements, if the building has an
elevator, all of the dwelling units must meet the FHAct's design
and construction requirements; if there is no elevator, all of the
ground floor dwelling units must meet the FHAct's requirements.
A unit that meets the FHAct's accessibility requirements will be
one that does not have as great a degree of accessibility as a UFAS-complying
unit, but is one that may be easily adapted to be fully accessible
without significant costs and the need to do significant structural
modifications. More information on the FHAct may be obtained by
going to HUD's web page for Persons with Disabilities,
and specifically to the statute, the regulations implementing the
Act, the Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines, and the Supplemental
Notice with Questions and Answers about the Guidelines. A Fair Housing
Act Design Manual is available by calling the HUD
Distribution Center at 1-800-767-7468.
If a federally financed housing project is targeted for substantial
alteration, what does Section 504 require in terms of accessible
Under Section 504, alterations are substantial if they are undertaken
to a project that has 15 or more units and the cost of the alterations
is 75% or more of the replacement cost of the completed facility.
[See 24 CFR 8.23(a)]. The new construction provisions of 24 CFR
8.22 apply. Section 8.22 requires that a minimum of 5% of the dwelling
units, or at least one unit, whichever is greater, shall be made
accessible to persons with mobility disabilities and an additional
2% of the dwelling units, or at least one unit, whichever is greater,
shall be made accessible to persons with hearing or visual disabilities.
What does Section 504 require when a recipient undertakes alterations
of existing housing facilities that do not qualify as substantial
Answer: If the project involves fewer than 15 units or the cost
of alterations is less than 75% of the replacement cost of the completed
facility and the recipient has not made 5% of its units in the development
accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, then
the requirements of 24 CFR 8.23(b) - Other Alterations apply. Under
this section, alterations to dwelling units shall, to the maximum
extent feasible, be made readily accessible to and usable by individuals
with disabilities. If alterations to single elements or spaces of
a dwelling unit, when considered together, amount to an alteration
of a dwelling unit, the entire unit shall be made accessible. Alteration
of an entire unit is considered to be when at least all of the following
individual elements are replaced:
of whole kitchens, or at least replacement of kitchen cabinets;
- renovation of the bathroom, if at least bathtub or shower is
replaced or added, or a toilet and flooring is replaces; and
replacement of entrance door jambs.
the entire unit is not being altered, 100% of the single elements
being altered must be made accessible until 5% of the units in the
development are accessible. However, the Department strongly encourages
a recipient to make 5% of the units in a development readily accessible
to and usable by individuals with mobility impairments, since that
will avoid the necessity of making every element altered accessible,
which often may result in having partially accessible units which
may be of little or no value for persons with mobility impairments.
It is also more likely that the cost of making 5% of the units accessible
up front will be less than making each and every element altered
accessible. Alterations must meet the applicable sections of the
UFAS which govern alterations.
When a recipient plans alterations, are there areas of a building
which are not required to be made accessible under Section 504?
Mechanical rooms and other spaces that, because of their intended
use, will not require accessibility to the public or beneficiaries
or result in the employment or residence therein of individuals
with physical disabilities are not required to be made accessible
in projects undergoing either substantial or other alterations.
[see 24 CFR 8.32 (6)]
DISABILITY CIVIL RIGHTS LAWS AFFECTING FEDERALLY ASSISTED HOUSING
What is the Federal Fair Housing Act and what types of discrimination
does it prohibit against persons with disabilities?
The Federal Fair
Housing Act (FHAct), 42 U.S.C. 3601-19, prohibits
discrimination in housing practices on the basis of race, color,
religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability.
(FHAct uses the term handicap, however, this document
uses the term disability, which has the same legal meaning.)
The Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating against
persons because of their disability or the disability of anyone
associated with them and from treating persons with disabilities
less favorably than others because of the disability. The Act also
requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations
in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations
may be necessary to afford such person(s) equal opportunity to use
and enjoy a dwelling. In addition, the Act requires that housing
providers allow tenants to make reasonable modifications to units
and common spaces in a dwelling. The Act applies to the vast majority
of privately and publicly owned housing including housing subsidized
by the federal government or rented through the use of Section 8
voucher assistance. HUD's regulations implementing the disability
discrimination prohibitions of the Act may be found at 24 CFR 100.201-205.
Is the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA) applicable to housing, and if yes,
does the ADA supersede Section 504?
In most cases, the ADA does not apply to residential housing. Title
III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities
in commercial facilities and public accommodations. 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 or when they are made available to the general public. For
example, it covers the rental office, since, by its nature, the
rental office is open to the general public. In addition, if a day
care center, or a community room is made available to the general
public, it would be covered by Title III. Title III applies, irrespective
of whether the public and common use areas are operated by a federally
assisted provider or by a private entity. However, if the community
room or day care center were only open to residents of the building,
Title III would not apply.
II of the ADA covers the activities of public entities (state and
local governments). Title II requires public entities to make
both new and existing housing facilities accessible to persons with
disabilities. Housing covered by Title II of the ADA includes,
for example, 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
ADA, when it is applicable to a residential housing project, does
not supersede Section 504, assuming Section 504 is also
applicable. Instead, where both laws apply to a housing project,
the project must be in compliance with both laws.
What is the Architectural Barriers Act and what does it cover?
The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA) (42 U.S.C. 4151-4157)
requires that certain buildings financed with Federal funds must
be designed, constructed, or altered in accordance with standards
that ensure accessibility for persons with physical disabilities.
The ABA requires that covered buildings comply with the Uniform
Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS). The ABA does not cover privately-owned
housing, but covers buildings or facilities financed in whole or
in part with Federal funds. The ABA applies to public housing (24
CFR 40), and to buildings and facilities constructed with CDBG funds
(24 CFR 570.614). In practice, buildings built to meet the requirements
of Section 504 and Title II of the ADA will conform to the requirements
of the ABA.