Rights of Disabled Tenants

By Tenant

I am a person with disability but I have been renting all my life. I just moved to another state and tried to get an apartment. I went to Craigslist and found this beautiful apartment that has a ramp – perfect for my wheelchair. So I went over to get the answers to some additional questions that the ad left out. I had high hopes for the place but unfortunately, I was turned down. It was very surprising because they didn’t even ask for my personal and financial information and just said that I couldn’t rent. Isn’t this some kind of discrimination that I needed to report?

So after going through a lot of information available online and asking a few friends, I decided to file a complaint against that landlord. A new friend directed me to RPA and I used their complaint center. It wasn’t like a revenge or something. I just wanted to make sure that they be informed of their mistake so future tenants would not be treated so unkindly.

Who are disabled?

People with disability would be those who have:

  • mental or physical limitations
  • records of disability
  • been considered by others as someone with disability
  • mobile, visual, and hearing impairments, mental retardation, and alcohol and drug addiction (not caused by illegal substances)
  • HIV, AIDS and other related diseases as well as mental illness

What are the rights of a disabled prospect tenant?

According to the Fair Housing Act, tenants must not be discriminated based on their disability. This means that they should be allowed equal chance and treatment in tenant screening. A landlord is also not allowed to ask the tenant applicants regarding the extent of the disability or if there is disability at all. A look into the medical records is strictly prohibited as it has no bearing on the tenants’ ability to pay rent.

The only questions a landlord may ask would be the following:

  • If you can meet the tenancy requirements
  • If you abuse or are addicted to illegal and controlled substances
  • If you qualify for a rental unit that is available only to people with disability
  • If you quality for a rental unit that is offered on a priority basis only

When awarded the rental unit, the disabled tenant may modify it to make it safe and comfortable to live in. The landlord may also be asked to install dedicated outlets for medical equipment. If these will make living difficult for the next tenant, then the landlord may inform the tenant that the original setup be restored upon moving out.

Sometimes a landlord may ask for proof to justifications that you will make to the apartment unit. This is because there are some disabilities wherein their special needs are not very obvious – for example, mental illness.

So if your landlord goes against these provisions set in the Fair Housing Act, seek third party assistance through a mediation company or through a lawyer.

Edited on: Tuesday, August 6th, 2013 2:39 pm

10 Responses to “Rights of Disabled Tenants”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)


February 14th, 2013 12:20 am

Honestly, I don’t like it when people with disability come asking for accomodation. But I know that they are still prospect tenants and they have the right to live in my apartment. It’s just that there are a lot of adjustments that need to be done and I personally feel like they will become more of liabilities.


February 14th, 2013 5:40 am

If he’s disabled, there should be the contact information of the social worker so that if anything comes up, the landlord would know who to contact.


February 14th, 2013 11:00 am

I am disabled and I find it difficult to live on my own. I find it even more difficult to have an inconsiderate landlord who is rude and unwilling to make adjustments that I have the right to. That’s why I just moved back with my mother. At least she can help me out whenever I needed helping.


February 14th, 2013 4:20 pm

As a tenant, people with disability, in general, are okay to live with. But someone who has mental illness or a history of mental illness is unacceptable. What if he suddenly becomes violent then no one is around to control him? That would be very unsafe for us.


February 14th, 2013 9:40 pm

Correct. It is very important that you keep the contact information of the parent or social worker so that you will know who to call in case of an emergency.


February 15th, 2013 3:00 am

I used to have a tenant who had an illness. She asked that I keep her key so that in case I come knocking and she doesn’t answer, I should just go right in. I felt like I have another baby girl to check on every once in a while. It was an added responsibility but she has the right to live in my apartment just like the rest of my other tenants.


February 15th, 2013 8:20 am

A disabled tenant is actually more likely to pay rent on time because he knows that if you kick him out, he would have a difficult time looking for another apartment to rent. But that’s just based on my experience.


February 15th, 2013 1:40 pm

Thank for you this article. It made me understand my rights better.


February 15th, 2013 7:00 pm

I’m disabled but I get good money by working from home. So you see, just because I’m disabled doesn’t mean that I’m different from the rest of your tenants.


February 16th, 2013 12:20 am

Of course this makes sense. A person’s medical record is always confidential and no landlord has the right to open it or gain access to it.


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