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

Federal fair housing laws protect 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 Fair Housing Act (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
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