Is it Illegal for Landlords in Pennsylvania to Deny Housing Because of a Disability?

Last time we talked about housing rights for the disabled, and the ways they can be proactive in living comfortably. That topic, while useful, left a few holes in where discrimination could take place, and what it actually looks like when a property owner engages in illegal behavior. Our disability attorneys break down the basics of the Fair Housing Act in this article, and provide some start tips any disabled renter or potential home buyer can use to stand up for their rights should illegal activity occur.

Inconsistent Renting Policies Among Tenants

A property owner doesn’t get to play favorites. Policies regarding payment of rent, including what constitutes a late payment, must remain consistent across the board. If your landlord adheres to the letter of your lease agreement more strictly with you because of your disability, that may constitute discrimination. How someone executes a contract matters just as much the wording on the paper, and you have the right to fair treatment under the agreement.

Refusal to Rent/Sell Because of Your Disability

Saying a property is unavailable for rent or sale because you appear to have a physical or mental disability is discrimination under The Fair Housing Act. The regulations in that federal statute require all property owners to make their residences available to all people regardless of certain protection characteristics, including race, religion, skin color, and disability. An owner can see you approaching the home in question in a wheelchair and pull up the stakes on the ‘for sale’ sign legally.

In addition, property owners cannot advertise in a manner that indicates people with disabilities may not apply, or won’t receive approval to rent/buy. Excluding any one protected group is illegal under federal and (most) state laws.

Failing to Make Reasonable Accommodation for Disabled Tenants

Some property owners don’t want to follow the basic rules of state and federal statute regarding reasonable accommodation to allow you, as a disabled American, to live comfortably in a residence. So, they refuse to lower the railings or install an access ramp hoping that will steer you clear of the residence. That’s a clear violation of your civil rights.

Filing a Discrimination Claim in Pennsylvania

When someone violates your rights as a disabled person, you may incur damages, including additional moving costs, higher rent/mortgage payments and could incur lost wages due to the extra time needed to find a place to live. Filing a claim for damages against the landlord can help you recover those losses, and obtain compensation in the form of punitive damages designed to punish the owner for failing to uphold the letter of the law.

Our Pennsylvania Disability Attorneys Can Help You File Your Claim

If you, or someone in your family, is dealing with a long-term medical condition that doctors expect to last for at least a year, you may be entitled to benefits through Social Security Disability. Our attorneys can pursue your application for aid with the federal government on your behalf, maximizing your chances for first-time approval. There’s no charge to hire us to represent you, and if we don’t recover benefits, there’s no fee owed. Call us today for your free consultation.