Under the federal Fair Housing Act, after a disabled individual moves into a home or apartment, the landlord may be required to provide that person with special accommodations, at the landlord’s expense. Additionally, they must allow a disabled individual to make reasonable modifications to the space at that individual’s own expense.
Disabilities and illnesses covered under the Fair Housing Act and the Fair Housing Amendments Act include:
- Hearing impairments
- Mobility impairments
- Visual impairments
- Mental illness
- Chronic alcoholism being addressed through a recovery program
- Mental retardation
- HIV, AIDS and AIDS-related complex
Landlords are not allowed to question potential tenants regarding their disability or illness, or ask for medical records. Even if it is obvious that the tenant is disabled, a landlord should not ask about the extent of the disability. The property owner’s actions and questions may not imply that they are treating the tenant differently than other potential tenants based on the disability.
Should a potential tenant have a mental or emotional impairment, a landlord may reject this individual should they be able to prove that the person poses a danger to others.
Landlords must make reasonable accomodations to meet the needs of disabled tenants at the landlord’s own expense. Reasonable accommodations may include special parking, ramps, or handrails as well as adjustments to any building rules to provide the person reasonable opportunity to use and enjoy the common areas and the rental space.
Landlords must also allow a disabled tenant to make reasonable accommodations to the rental space at the tenant’s expense, as long as those accommodations do not make it unsuitable for the next tenant to live in. The tenant must remove any changes that were made to make the rental suitable for the next tenant.