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Disabled tenants and housing rights

Individuals with disabilities in Michigan and the rest of the nation have a federally protected right to apply for and reside in a rental no matter what type of impairment they may have. Property owners that deny disabled tenants housing by using a discriminatory housing practice are in violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Fair Housing Amendments Act.

These two federal laws prohibit the discrimination against tenants or prospective tenants based on a disability they may have or on the disability an individual associated with them may have. The laws include protections for individuals with a physical or mental disability that significantly affect how well they are able to conduct major life activities and individuals that have a record of a disability. The laws also protect individuals who may be thought of by others as being disabled.

There are multiple types of protected disabilities. They include drug addiction that is not the result of using an illicit substance, visual impairments, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, hearing impairments, alcoholism that is being treated in a recovery program, mental retardation and mobility impairments.

Landlords are prohibited from inquiring about whether an applicant is disabled or how severe the disability may be if there is no request for an accommodation. All disabled applicants and tenants must be treated in the same manner as those without a disability. Landlords are not allowed to ask for medical records or urge a disabled tenant to take a certain unit.

Disabled individuals who have been victims of discrimination in their search for housing may require the assistance of an attorney who has experience with fair housing matters. The attorney may notify the appropriate federal agencies and may pursue financial compensation on behalf of clients that have been denied housing because of their disability.