Fair Housing Law provides additional protections to people with disabilities in the sale and rental of housing. It requires owners of rental housing (other than the housing excluded by the law) to provide reasonable accommodations to a person with a disability that are directly related to the disability and would afford the person with use and enjoyment of the housing like someone without a disability.
A reasonable accommodation is defined as a change in rules, policies, practices or services to give a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit or common space. Reasonable accommodations may be necessary at all stages of the housing process, including application, tenancy or to prevent eviction.
Examples of reasonable accommodations include:
Permitting a change in how a tenant pays rent.
Providing a rental application in a different format such as braille.
Overlooking poor credit due to disability-related medical expenses.
Allowing an assistance animal in a unit where pets are not permitted.
Sending copies of all communications to a second contact person.
How to make a Reasonable Accommodation Request
When: A request for a reasonable accommodation can be made at any time.
By Who: A request can be made by the person with a disability or by someone else on their behalf, including a Housing Support Service (HSS) specialist, Coordinator of Community Services (CCS)/ case manager, family, friend, staff, etc.
To Who: A request can be made to anyone who works for the property owner, including the property manager, maintenance staff, administrative staff, etc.
How: The request can be verbal or in writing. It is strongly recommended that you make reasonable accommodation requests in writing and give them to the property manager or owner. This keeps a record of your request and makes the request clear to the property owner.
Three Reasons a Request Can be Denied
There are three reasons why a reasonable accommodation request can be denied:
The request is not related to the person’s disability. For example, a person who had poor credit before acquiring a disability could not ask that this be overlooked due to their disability.
The request would cause the property owner undue financial burden. This is decided on a case-by-case basis and HUD looks at the entire financial portfolio of the property owner in determining if it is a financial burden.
The request would result in a fundamental alteration in the property owner’s services. For example, a request to have the owner transport the person with a disability to the grocery store would be a fundamental alteration if the owner provides housing and has no transportation services.
What Happens After a Request is Made
When a reasonable accommodation request is made, the property owner must respond in a timely manner to the person who made the request. A delay in responding can be considered a denial by HUD.
Accepted: If the request is accepted, the property owner must provide a timeframe within which the request will be completed. The owner may ask to meet the need identified in the request in a different manner, and this should be done as a discussion. For example, a request may have been to have copies of all correspondence to the tenant mailed to the tenant’s father. The owner may ask if it would be okay to scan and email the correspondence rather than using the U.S. Mail.
Denied: If the request is denied, the property owner must give a reason for the denial. However, the owner must continue to consider alternative accommodations that would meet the person’s needs.
Costs: The costs for implementing a reasonable accommodation are the responsibility of the property owner. Parking spaces, signs and restriping are considered reasonable accommodations.
Making a complaint: If you think that your rights have been violated, a complaint can be filed with HUD.
You can also file a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. For more information, click the button below