Fair housing laws protect people from discrimination in housing. You are protected when you are looking for housing, and protected from unequal treatment once you are living somewhere. See our fact sheet Housing Discrimination for basic fair housing information. This fact sheet is for seniors with disabilities who think they have faced or are facing discrimination from their housing provider.
Some people think nursing homes can pick and choose residents based on disability. This is not true. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and similar housing must follow disability rights laws. Most of these housing types were created to serve people with disabilities. For many people, moving into these places is more a matter of need than choice.
Generally, these kinds of providers can’t discriminate against people based on their type of disability. So, if the landlord or management turns down your application, tries to evict you, or treats you differently because of your disability, they may be breaking the law.
These Things May be Signs of Illegal Housing Discrimination:
You have the right to ask for structural or physical changes to a place you rent if you need them because of your disabilities. These are called “reasonable modifications.” These changes can be in your unit or in common areas. You have the right to equal use of all the common areas – including the main entrance and the residential elevator.
For example, you may ask for structural changes like:
bathroom grab bars
adjusted door knobs
a ramped entry
a wider door to allow wheelchair passage
You may be asked to pay for some of these changes unless the housing provider gets government funding or the home was built after 1991, when the changes should have happened by law.
In most newer, multi-unit buildings – occupied after March 1991 – higher levels of accessibility are required by law. This includes accessibility for the elevator, public/common areas, doors, bathrooms, and kitchens.
A housing provider can deny a request for a reasonable modification if the cost of making the change is high enough to cause an administrative or financial burden. They can also say no if the modification asked for would change the fundamental operations of the housing provider.
You have the right to ask for changes in building policies and rules if you need the changes to let you use and take advantage of the programs and services offered by a housing provider. These are called “reasonable accommodations.”
asking to change the place where community gatherings and meetings are held because you can’t get to it
asking for a more convenient parking space
asking them to re-think an application denial or eviction
having an assistance or companion animal
Note: Housing providers can’t ask for a deposit for your assistance or companion animal. But, if the animal causes damage you have to pay for repairs and charges.