The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 added disability status as a protected class in the Fair Housing Act and mandated that all new multifamily housing meet basic accessibility requirements. It also requires landlords to permit tenants to make physical modifications to their unit or a common area to improve accessibility—for example, installing a ramp or grab bars, or lowering a countertop—subject to certain rules. Landlords also must make certain reasonable accommodations in their rules and policies to permit tenants full use and enjoyment of the premises.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 imposes similar requirements on housing programs receiving federal funds. It also mandates that the housing provider pay for necessary and reasonable physical modifications, up to certain limits. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 applies to the public areas of buildings. This includes multifamily residential buildings, which may have first-floor public or retail space, laundry areas, or rental offices.
Fair Housing: Policy
Fair housing statutes
State and local governments should take action to advance the purposes of the Fair Housing Act to promote fair housing.
States should revise or modify their fair housing statutes or regulations to conform to federal law, which no longer requires that residential housing offer “significant facilities and services” to qualify as “housing for older adults.”
Enforcement agencies should create an expedited complaint process for cases in which time is of the essence, such as when the allegedly illegal denial of housing results in a person being retained in a nursing home or other institution.
The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other civil rights statutes should protect people from all forms of housing discrimination and be fully enforced.
Congress should address any judicial decision that limits the protections of individuals under the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights statutes.
Housing for people with disabilities
The Department of Housing and Urban Development should consult with a wide range of individuals working in adaptive housing to develop a hierarchy of adaptable features for different types of disabilities.