Recently, Denver Metro Fair Housing Center (DMFHC) has been reminded that there is confusion among some housing professionals over certain protections provided by the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The FHA protects individuals from housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. There are additional protections afforded to persons with disabilities which are meant to allow them an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their dwellings.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 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.” Qualifying disabilities can be mental or physical and may not be readily apparent to other persons. It is unlawful to deny housing or provide different terms and conditions to a person because they have a disability. Additionally, the FHA requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications for persons with disabilities, if requested.
Reasonable accommodations (RA) are 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 is required to do everything they can to assist. An example of an RA would be a landlord permitting a person with a disability to have a companion animal, even though the usual rules governing the property may not allow “pets”. A companion animal is not considered a “pet” and the individual cannot be charged additional fees, deposits, and pet rents, or required to obtain any additional insurance coverage. For more information on service animals and assistance animals for persons with disabilities in housing and HUD funded programs, please see this HUD memo.
Reasonable modifications (RM) are structural modifications that are made to allow persons with disabilities the full enjoyment of the housing and related facilities. RMs are usually made at the resident’s expense, however, if the resident lives in federally funded housing, the housing provider may be required to pay for the modification. An example of a RM would be the installation of a ramp at the entryway of a building, or the installation grab bars in a bathroom.
RA and RM rules can be complicated, but DMFHC is here to help. We have provided a fair housing PSA for you to display in your community. For more information, please see these joint statements from HUD and the Department of Justice on RAs and RMs. Additionally, please call DMFHC with any questions you may have at (720) 279-4291. We are always available to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you for all you do to help DMFHC eliminate housing discrimination!