Housing discrimination is not limited to only race. Some individuals are discriminated against based on sexual orientation, disability, gender, religion, and a host of other criteria. Not only are there federal laws in place to prevent housing discrimination, but many states have laws that prohibit it. If you have a disability and are concerned that you are being unfairly treated by a potential landlord, here is what you need to know.
What Can the Landlord Ask?
Landlords have the right to screen applicants to determine whether or not they would be a good fit for their property. However, there is a limit to what a landlord can ask a potential tenant. Any questions that could be perceived as an attempt to weed out applicants based on disability are not allowed.
For instance, a landlord does not have the right to ask the extent of your disability. Even if the landlord is merely curious or is attempting to determine what he or she can do to make you more comfortable, questioning your disability is a no-no.
If your disability is related to mental health, the landlord can only ask whether or not there are past incidents that were dangerous to others or destructive to property. The landlord cannot ask for specifics on your mental condition.
What Can You Do?
If you believe that a landlord is discriminating against you because of your disability, start by asking specifically why he or she rejected your application. Ask him or her to put the justification in writing.
You also need to write down the details of your interactions with the landlord. By writing it now, you have a better chance of recalling every detail and what happened exactly will prove to be important if you decide to take legal action.
If possible, ask a friend or family member who is not disabled who fits the other requirements for a tenant to submit an application to the landlord. Someone who has a similar financial and rental history would be best. Note whether or not the person gets a different response from the landlord. If he or she is approved, this could go a long way towards proving your argument of discrimination.
At this point, if you want to take action, you can file a complaint with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development or file a civil lawsuit against the landlord. The complaint with HUD must be filed within a year of experiencing the discrimination. If you are filing a lawsuit, you have up to two years.
For more information, contact a firm such as The Law Offices of Douglas F. Fagan.