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Disability Discrimination: Your Rights Under the Fair Housing Act

Laws about discrimination can be very confusing to some people. After all, doesn’t the owner of a private business have the right to choose who they can service or to whom the can provide goods? The answer to this is yes, to an extent. Discrimination prohibits people from making these decisions for reasons other than those considered to be valid, objective, and business-based.

Far too many people suffer from disability discrimination when trying to rent a property, and think they have no recourse. There are ways you can seek help, however, and the law is on your side. Discover how you can fight against discrimination using your rights under the Fair Housing Act, and how having a disability lawyer in your corner is vital.

The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act and its amendments are laws that are enforced by HUD, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development department, and this law prohibits discrimination based on a number of factors, including disability.

Specifically, the Fair Housing Act disallows discrimination based on physical or mental disabilities that serve to limit life activities, who have a record of a disability of this nature or are regarded as having a disability of this kind by others. These include the following:

  • Vision or hearing impairments
  • Mobility issues
  • Mental illness
  • HIV, AIDS, or AIDS-Related Complex
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Alcoholism or Drug Addiction (providing the addict is in treatment and currently clean)

Your Legal Rights

Even if you suffer from a disability, you have the right to accommodations for your condition, including wheelchair accessibility, the right to keep a service animal, special payment plans for those whose finances are managed by the government or another party, or other reasonable means to address your difficulties.

You also have the right to make any necessary physical modifications to the space relevant to your disability, including lowering counters, installing special handles or faucets, making modifications to appliances and installing ramps, though you do need to seek approval from your landlord in order to make such changes, and you are required to pay for the modifications. This may require verifying your disability to gain permission.

Disability-Based Discrimination

If you have experienced a landlord refusing to rent to you despite you meeting all necessary criteria including credit history, references, and ability to pay rent, if they falsely claim that a rental unit isn’t currently available, if they request to view your medical records, or if they deny you reasonable accommodations, you may be the target of discrimination.

Landlord Exemptions

Landlords whose buildings have four units or less, who rent single-family housing without using a broker or without discriminatory advertising, who work with private clubs or restricted-membership organizations, or housing geared specifically towards seniors have limited exemptions to these laws. However, state laws may trump federal exemptions in your area.

Seeking Legal Help from a Disability Lawyer

If you have been the victim of housing discrimination, you may be entitled to seek restitution, whether it’s compensation or being awarded a rental agreement. To pursue such a case, however, you’ll need the aid of an experienced disability lawyer. If you are in the Southern California area and need help, contact the law offices of Dr. Bill LaTour for help today.

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