An Introduction to the FFHA and ADA

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Who’s ready for a brief history lesson on two historic acts of legislation that affect both renters and landlords all across America?

The United States Government has created multiple pieces of legislation that protect consumers from unlawful discrimination. This article will introduce, and briefly touch on, how The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 affect both renters and landlords. While general information and requirements will be discussed, this article is by no means fully comprehensive and professional advice should be sought when necessary.

1The Federal Fair Housing Act was created in 1968 to protect buyers and renters from landlord discrimination. In short, the FFHA mandates that a landlord may not dissuade, steer, preclude, evict or reject renters or buyers for discriminatory reasons because of their race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin. For example, it is illegal for a landlord to write in an advertisement, “no kids allowed.” It is likewise illegal for a tenant to be rejected based on maintaining this familial status.

Protected classes were further expanded with the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In short, the ADA protects tenants with disabilities that were not initially covered under the FFHA. Protected disabilities include, but are not limited to: mobility impairments, hearing impairments, visual impairments, mental illness, HIV, AIDS and mental retardation. Likewise, a landlord may never dissuade, steer, preclude, evict or reject renters or buyers because of ADA-covered disabilities.

The ADA additionally requires that landlords create ‘reasonable accommodations’ for renters with disabilities. For example, in the instance that a mobility-impaired tenant may require a wheelchair ramp, a landlord is required by law to accommodate this person, as long as the request doesn’t create an undue financial burden.

According to Rent Post, “Landlords are responsible for paying for accommodations, though many common ones are free or low cost. Tenants are usually responsible for paying for structural modifications unless the dwelling is listed as a federally assisted housing structure.”

Disclaimer: this article is not fully comprehensive with respect to legislation affecting landlords. This piece serves to provide a basic understanding of two historic acts of legislation. Always seek expert advice when necessary.


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