Best Practices to Avoid Common and Costly Violations of the Fair Housing Act Related to Disability

Prospective Tenants

  • Do not tell a prospective tenant, agent, or third party that you don’t want someone with a disability living on the property.
  • Do not lie or allow an agent to indicate that an apartment is not available to a prospective tenant with a disability when one or more units are in fact available.
  • Do not ask if prospective residents are capable of “independent living.”
  • Do not ask if a prospective tenant has a disability, takes medication, has ever been hospitalized, or has ever been in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program.
  • Do not discriminate against prospective tenants based on how they sound over the phone.

Lease Terms and Property Rules

  • You cannot charge a higher security deposit because a tenant uses a wheelchair or a scooter or has an assistance animal.
  • Do not require people with mobility impairments to live on ground floor units.
  • Do not ban people with disabilities from common use areas including pools and fitness facilities.

Property Management

  • Respond equally to all maintenance requests for people with disabilities as you do for tenants who do not have disabilities.
  • Do not attempt to evict a tenant because they request a reasonable accommodation or modification.
  • Do not attempt to evict a tenant because they file a fair housing complaint.
  • Allow tenants with post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental or emotional health disabilities to have an emotional support animal even when you have a “no pets” policy.

Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications

  • Allow tenants to make reasonable modifications to the rental unit or common areas which will enable them equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
  • Grant reasonable accommodations, as necessary, to allow a tenant with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
  • Respond to reasonable accommodation and modification requests in a timely manner.
  • Do not charge a pet fee or extra security deposit for an assistance animal.
  • Do not ask to see a resident’s medical records or speak to their doctor for more details about their condition.
  • Accept written or verbal accommodation or modification requests even if you have a preferred form or procedure.
  • Do not be rigid or overly burdensome with rules, policies, and procedures.
  • Engage in an interactive process.
  • Provide fair housing training to all employees who interact with tenants and prospective tenants.
  • Do not charge a transfer fee or early lease termination fee when a resident needs to transfer to a more accessible unit or community due to a disability-related need.
  • Do not place conditions on an accommodation by requiring some action before it is granted.
  • Do not require medical documentation or completion of a particular form before considering an accommodation when the disability or the need for the accommodation is obvious.
  • Do not ask about the nature or severity of a requestor’s disability.
  • Do not require an annual reapplication or recertification of a reasonable accommodation request.

Harassment and Privacy Violations

  • Avoid making any comments which could be seen as threatening or intimidating to a person with a disability.
  • Do not make any comments about a person’s disability.
  • Respond quickly to reports of other tenants harassing someone because of their disability.
  • Do not disclose a tenant’s disability to other residents.

More About Fair Housing