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Housing Protection—the Fair Housing Act

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the lead agency administering the Fair Housing Act since its adoption in 1968. The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

What does this mean to you? If you have a disability, you have rights with regards to renting and buying a home.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:

  • Race or Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Family Status
  • Disability

In the sale and rental of housing to people with disabilities, people cannot:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Create special rules, deposits or rental charge because of a disability
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting)
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing

If you have a disability, your landlord may not refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your own expense, if needed for people with disabilities to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.) A landlord may also not refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for people with disabilities to use the housing.

The Landlord may ask you:

  • About your ability to pay rent, including a credit check
  • If you will obey building rules
  • For past references about your history as a tenant

Questions a Landlord may NOT ask:

  • Do you have a disability?
  • Tell me about your disability. How severe is it?
  • May I have your permission to see your medical records?
  • Do you have someone who can vouch for your safety?
  • Why do you receive disability benefits?

If you feel your rights have been violated:

If your rights have been violated the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will help with problems of housing discrimination. If you think your rights have been violated, you may write a letter or telephone the HUD office nearest you. You have one year after an alleged violation to file a complaint with HUD, but you should file it as soon as possible.

What to tell the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office:

  • Your name and address
  • The name and address of the person your complaint is against (the respondent)
  • The address or other identification of the housing involved
  • A short description of the alleged violation (the event that caused you to believe your rights were violated)
  • The date(s) of the alleged violation

Where to write or Call:

Fair Housing Enforcement Center
US Department of Housing and Urban Development
633 17th Street
Denver, Colorado 80202-3607
(303) 672-5437
1-800-877-7353
TTY (303) 672-5248

If you still have questions after contacting the local office nearest you, contact:

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
451 7th Street, S.W., Room 5204
Washington, DC 20410-2000
(202) 708-0836
1-800-669-9777
TTY 1-800-927-9275