Renting with Disabilities: Understanding Your Rights

Renting with Disabilities: Understanding Your Rights


When it comes to renting with disabilities, it’s important to know your rights as a tenant. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provide certain protections and accommodations for individuals with disabilities. This article aims to help you understand your rights and navigate the rental process with confidence.

Understanding Your Rights as a Tenant

What is the Fair Housing Act (FHA)?

The Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968 and prohibits discrimination in the rental, sale, and financing of housing based on factors such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and disability. The law ensures that individuals with disabilities have equal opportunities in the housing market.

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law passed in 1990 that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. While the Fair Housing Act primarily focuses on housing, the ADA covers a wider range of areas, including employment, transportation, and public accommodations.

Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications

Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations or modifications to allow individuals with disabilities to enjoy their rental property equally. This could include installing grab bars in the bathroom, widening doorways for wheelchair accessibility, or allowing service animals. However, landlords are not required to make accommodations that would cause undue financial hardship or fundamentally alter the property.

Providing Documentation

When requesting reasonable accommodations, you may be asked to provide documentation that verifies your disability and explains the need for the specific accommodation. This could be in the form of a letter from your healthcare provider or other appropriate documentation. Remember, your landlord is not entitled to know your specific diagnosis, only that you have a disability and require the accommodation.

Non-Discrimination during Tenant Selection

Landlords cannot deny a rental application solely based on an individual’s disability. They must evaluate applicants based on their ability to meet the rental requirements and pay rent, not their disability. It is illegal for landlords to ask about disabilities or request medical records during the application process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can a landlord charge me extra for reasonable accommodations?

No, the landlord cannot charge you extra for reasonable accommodations. They are required to provide and pay for these accommodations unless they cause undue financial hardship.

2. Can a landlord refuse to rent to me because of my disability?

No, it is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to you solely because of your disability. They can only turn you down if you fail to meet the rental requirements, such as income or credit score.

3. Can a landlord evict me if my disability requires modifications that violate the lease agreement?

No, if the requested modifications are considered reasonable under the Fair Housing Act, a landlord cannot evict you for making necessary changes to accommodate your disability. However, you are responsible for returning the property to its original condition upon moving out.


Knowing your rights as a tenant with disabilities is crucial to ensure fair treatment and equal access to housing. Familiarize yourself with the Fair Housing Act and ADA guidelines to advocate for your needs during the rental process. Remember to communicate clearly with your landlord and provide any necessary documentation to support your reasonable accommodation requests.

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