Housing Discrimination Info Sheet
PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS
Persons with psychiatric disabilities often have a very difficult time obtaining a rental unit or other housing. Some people actually believe that it’s ok to reject a rental application or to evict an individual simply because “other people don’t like his looks” or she makes people uncomfortable. Well, it’s not all right to do these things, IT’S ILLEGAL!
There are state and federal laws to protect persons with psychiatric disabilities from housing discrimination, and to make sure that they receive equal access and opportunity to enjoy the property as other tenants. The purpose of this flyer is to provide some basic information about the rights of persons with psychiatric disabilities, and to help folks figure out if there has possibly been illegal discrimination.
To protect your rights, you do not have to disclose your psychiatric disability. If asking for a reasonable accommodation, the applicant must show that they qualify as a person with a disability, but they do not have to disclose what the disability is.
This flyer is not intended to inform readers about every legal detail. If you believe that there has been illegal discrimination, you should seek additional assistance through one of the organizations listed in this flyer.
AGAINST PERSONS WITH PSYCHIATRIC DISABILITIES
WHAT IS FAIR HOUSING?
Under state and federal law ALL people with disabilities, including persons with psychiatric disabilities, have the right to live in the housing of their choice without discrimination.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Fair housing means that the landlord cannot be discriminatory in application of the rules. However, if a disabled tenant asks for a reasonable accommodation, the landlord may alter the rules to enable the disable tenant to be equal to other tenants.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF IT’S DISCRIMINATION?
There may be obvious signs that a landlord is discriminating. For example, she or he may specifically ask about a person’s treatment, or whether he or she takes medications. This can indicate that the landlord is reacting to the person’s disability, and that the refusal to rent could be based upon the disability. This is illegal. In some instances, the refusal to renew a lease may be discriminatory.
On other occasions, the landlord may use a more neutral sounding excuse to justify a refusal to rent. For example, they may refuse to provide a rental application, stating that apartments are no longer available, even though they are still running ads in the paper. Sometimes they will demand a larger security deposit or higher rent than for other tenants.
IN ANY CASE, THE BASIC RULE IS THAT THE LANDLORD CANNOT TREAT THE PERSON WITH A DISABILITY DIFFERENTLY THAT OTHER PEOPLE.
CAN THE LANDLORD ASK ABOUT MY INCOME, CREDIT OR BACKGROUND?
The landlord has the right to ask about your income (provided it is done for everyone), but the landlord cannot refuse to rent because a prospective tenant depends on lawful supplemental income, such as Social Security Disability (SSI),Supplemental Disability Insurance (SSDI), Section 8, Shelter Plus Care, etc., to pay the rent. In addition, the landlord cannot demand that an individual get a conservator or a representative payee. The landlord can also ask questions about a person’s rental and credit history, and can conduct a criminal background check, as long as this is done for everyone. The landlord cannot ask you about your psychiatric disability. If your criminal or credit history has been affected by your psychiatric disability, you may request reasonable accommodations under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
DOES THE FAIR HOUSING LAW APPLY TO ALL HOUSING?
State protections for person with disabilities generally apply to all housing EXCEPT: an owner-occupied building with no more than two rental units; and the rental of a room or rooms in a unit where the owner lives.
ARE THERE OTHER HOUSING RIGHTS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES?
The Fair Housing Act is meant to give persons with disabilities the same housing opportunity as other persons to use and enjoy a dwelling unit or common area. Therefore, the law says that a person with disabilities may be able to get a “reasonable accommodation” concerning the policies, rules and procedures of the landlord for his/her disability. Under the ADA, modification to the building structure can be done. The tenant must pay for these changes and to restore the apartment to its original state when the tenant moves out.
INDIVIDUALS HAVE THE RIGHT TO ADVOCACY SERVICES
Persons protected by the Bill of Rights have the right to advocacy to assist them in enforcing their rights. These advocates must be allowed to participate in treatment team meetings as well as other meetings and proceedings to enforce the bill of rights.
HOW DO YOU GET AN ACCOMMODATION AND/OR MODIFICATION?
A person must ask for an accommodation and/or modification to get it. Then the landlord or management company is required to work with the individual to negotiate an arrangement that meets the needs of the person with disabilities. In some instances, the applicant/tenant may be required to pay for the cost of the modification. There may be state funds or money from charitable organizations available to help cover these costs. The tenant will also have to pay for restoring the apartment to its original state.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU THINK THERE HAS BEEN ILLEGAL DISCRIMINATION?
DO NOT IGNORE IT!
FOR INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE
CALL CONNECTICUT LEGAL RIGHTS PROJECT
TOLL FREE 1-877-402-2299
CONNECTICUT FAIR HOUSING CENTER
TOLL FREE 1-888-247-4401