Tenants with Disabilities and Reasonable Accommodations
Authored By: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
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Tenants with disabilities can ask their landlord to accommodate their disabilities. For example, a tenant could ask a landlord to allow a service animal in a "no pets" apartment complex; a tenant who receives a disability benefits check on the third day of each month could ask to pay the rent on that day with no late fees; and a tenant with a wheelchair could ask a landlord to allow the tenant to build a ramp to the entrance of the unit. The law requires this because it allows tenants with disabilities to access housing just like tenants without disabilities. A landlord whose property is covered by Fair Housing laws must grant a tenant's request unless the requested accommodation is unduly burdensome or a fundamental alteration of the landlord's program. Failure to grant a tenant's reasonable request for accommodation of a disability is a violation of Fair Housing laws. Also, the landlord's failure to grant a request for an accommodation may be a defense against eviction. It is always good to make requests for reasonable accommodations in writing and provide a reasonable deadline for the landlord to respond. However, the law does not require your request to be in writing, and you do not have to use any special language to make the request.
If you believe that your rights have been violated because of your landlord has denied your request for a reasonable accommodation of your disability, or if your landlord is discriminating against you because of your disability, you should contact the Fair Housing office in the city where you live or the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office in your area. You can also call HUD's national number for discrimination complaints, 1-800-669-9777, and HUD's website is www.hud.gov. HUD's online complaint is located at http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/online-complaint.cfm. You may want to contact your local tenant association or an attorney for advice. If you file a complaint with a city Fair Housing office or HUD, they must investigate the claim and get back to you with their findings. You must file such an administrative complaint within one year of the violation. You can also file a lawsuit in court for damages, fees, and costs, and you have two years from the date of the violation to file such a lawsuit.