The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was amended in 1988 to protect people with disabilities from housing discrimination. Many of the housing problems faced by people with disabilities are due to unlawful policies and practices held by property owners and also to design and construction errors that occur in the development of housing. Common fair housing problems encountered by people with disabilities include:
- Refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services when such an accommodation is necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to enjoy a dwelling. Examples include:
- Refusing to install a curb cut adjacent to an accessible parking space for a person with a wheel chair
- Requiring additional fees or charges for processing requests for accommodations
- Refusing to allow a service animal on the property or charging additional fees for service animals
- Refusal to allow reasonable modifications of existing premises occupied or to be occupied by persons with disabilities if such modifications are necessary for the full enjoyment of the premises. Landlords are permitted to place conditions on modifications and to require that the premises be restored to its previous condition once the tenant vacates the premises with reasonable wear and tear expected. A request for a reasonable modification may be made at any time during the tenancy. The request can be written or verbal.
A Note about Service Animals
It is unlawful for a landlord to refuse to allow service animals that a tenant may need to address or mitigate a disability. Service animals are not pets and therefore, are not subject to the same rules, regulations and policies designed for pets or pet owners. Tenants who own service animals should not pay additional pet fees or be subject to additional monthly rent.
If you are a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia and feel you have been discriminated against on the basis of a disability, contact Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia at 804-354-0641 or report the suspected discrimination.