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What rights do people with disabilities living in subsidized housing have?

The Fair Housing Act (FHA), a federal law, protects people with disabilities from discrimination in housing. Landlords cannot treat tenants with disabilities worse than other tenants because of their disabilities. Also, tenants with mental or physical disabilities can ask for changes to make it easier to live in their units and follow the rules of their leases. These changes are called “reasonable accommodations.” The FHA requires most landlords to provide reasonable accommodations to tenants.

A reasonable accommodation can be any change to management rules, policies, practices or the way services are provided. The reason for the change must relate to the tenant’s disability. An example of an accommodation is permission to have a service animal in an apartment complex that does not allow pets. Another example is providing an assigned parking space for a disabled tenant who cannot walk very far. An accommodation can be requested for almost anything a tenant has to do as part of a lease.

Tenants in subsidized housing must follow many rules. For example, they must prove their income, pass background checks, turn in paperwork, and attend appointments. Tenants with disabilities can request accommodations for any of these rules.

Some examples of accommodations tenants in subsidizing housing
may request are:

• A chance to get back on a waiting list if removed for a reason
related to a disability
• Mail-in recertification if a tenant cannot make it to any
accessible locations
• Reminder letters or copies of letters sent to someone else if a
disability makes it hard for a tenant to remember things
• Not getting evicted if the reason for the eviction is related to
a disability

For more information, see, or the John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Support Center at

If you receive a notice of termination, a 3-day notice or eviction complaint, call Legal Aid at 1-888-817-3777 to find out if you are eligible for assistance.

This article was written by Callie Dendrinos and appeared in The Alert: Volume 32, Issue 1. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!

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