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How do I request a “reasonable accommodation,” or ask my landlord to change a requirement because of my disability?

Fair Housing laws prohibit your landlord from discriminating against you based upon your mental or physical disability.

If your disability interferes with your ability to occupy and use your house or apartment, your landlord may be required to make reasonable modifications to the property (like installing handrails or a ramp), or reasonable accommodations (like providing an assigned parking place near the door) to assist you. If you live in private housing (including Housing Choice Voucher housing), you must pay the cost of the accommodation. Examples of modifications or accommodations include:

  • Installing grab bars in the bathroom;
  • Giving a reminder to a person with a developmental disability that rent is due the following day; or
  • Reading written material out loud or providing material in Braille or large print for the vision impaired.

A request for an accommodation may be considered unreasonable, and does not have to be granted, if it would require a “fundamental alteration” in the nature of the landlord’s business, or the request creates an excessive financial or administrative burden for the landlord.

A tenant should make the request for an accommodation or modification in writing, keeping a copy. The landlord should not refuse that request as unreasonable without first sitting down with the tenant to see if there is some other accommodation that would address the tenant’s needs.

Sometimes there is a connection between a tenant’s physical or mental disability and a lease violation. When this occurs, the tenant may ask the landlord for a reasonable accommodation that will allow the tenant to keep their housing. A tenant may make this request in connection with an eviction action or at any time before eviction.

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