Fair housing act

Underneath the United States Department of Housing and Development Fair Housing Act, persons with disabilities may make reasonable modifications to their dwelling or common use areas if necessary to use the housing.

Included persons:

  • Any person who suffers from a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes hearing, mobility, and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex, and mental retardation.


  • Landlords may not refuse reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move. Additionally, landlords may not refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.


  • A building or complex with a no pets policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.

  • An apartment complex that offers tenants ample, unassigned parking must honor a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space near their apartment if necessary to assure that they can have access to their apartment.


how you can help

If a refugee with whom a volunteer is working with is disabled, he or she should be aware of the above in regards to housing. Volunteers can empower familiies to speak to their landlord about issues that arise, such as maintenance requests or other repairs. Keeping in mind the challenges and realities of housing, volunteers should check in with their supervising Volunteer Coordinator about the best approach to assist families through housing related issues. 


For full details, please visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website.