Individuals with physical and mental disabilities are protected from all forms of housing discrimination. An individual qualifies for the protection of the law if he or she has:
- a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities. Major life activities include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working; or
- a record of having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; or
- is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.
Individuals with a disability also have a right to a reasonable accommodation in a housing provider’s rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodation may be necessary to afford the disabled individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their dwelling.
Examples of Reasonable Accommodations
A tenant with a disability who has trouble walking can request an accommodation of a housing provider’s parking policy by requesting an exclusive or designated parking space close to his or her apartment.
A tenant whose disability requires an assistance animal (also referred to as service or emotional support animal) can request a waiver of a landlord’s no pet policies.
A reasonable modification is a structural change made to existing premises, occupied or to be occupied by a person with a disability, in order to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises. Reasonable modifications can include structural changes to interiors and exteriors of dwellings and to common and public use areas. In private housing it is usually the tenant’s responsibility to pay for the cost of the modification. In publicly assisted housing, or multifamily housing consisting of ten or more units or contiguously located housing consisting of ten or more units, the owner must pay for the cost of installing a ramp for a disabled tenant.
Examples of Reasonable Modifications
- Ramping entrances
- Removing base cabinets
- Installing railings
- Installing grab bars
- Widening doorways
Check out the segment from May 2012 on Pittsfield Community Television where MFHC Education and Outreach Coordinator Whitney Abel sat down with an AdLib representative to discuss fair housing for individuals with disabilities.