Fair Housing Office - Disabilities
In 1990 the Dallas City Council added handicap as an additional protected class to the Dallas Fair Housing Ordinance. Being handicapped includes but is not limited to psychological disorders, emotional and mental illnesses, learning disabilities, persons with AIDS or AIDS Related Complex and recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. If someone is disabled you cannot refuse to rent to them because of their disability.
Under the fair housing law a housing provider who has established a no pet policy must allow a disabled resident to keep a service animal as a reasonable accommodation. The housing provider must allow the disabled resident to keep the service animal if three conditions are met. First, the resident must meet the definition of handicap as defined in the fair housing law; second, the housing provider must know about or should have known about the resident's disability and third, the accommodation may be necessary to afford the resident with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling.
Currently the only requirement to be classified as a service animal under federal law is that the animal must be individually trained and must work for the benefit of the person with the disability. There is no requirement as to the amount of training that the animal must take nor is there a requirement as to the amount of work that the animal must do for that resident.
In processing a parking space request from a resident with a disability, you are entitled to ask for medical evidence that proves the resident has a disability. This does not give a housing provider the right to ask about the nature of the resident's disability but it does give them the right to ask for proof of their disability. Acceptable proof would be handicapped vehicle identification plates or tags or a letter from the resident's doctor, a chiropractor, social worker, or health provider. Once the resident provides proof, the housing provider has a duty to provide a handicap parking space. And if more than one resident with a disability asks for a parking space the housing provider will have a duty to accommodate each request.
A housing provider cannot refuse to rent to someone because of their disability. The law requires that you allow a person with a disability, at their expense, to make reasonable modifications to their unit if such modifications will allow that resident full enjoyment of the premises.
In many circumstances a housing provider may condition approval of the modification on having the tenant establish an escrow fund to pay to have the unit restored to its original condition, reasonable wear and tear excepted, when the tenant moves. The housing provider can also ask for assurances that the modification will be done in a professional manner.
Examples of Reasonable Modifications
For more information about your rights and responsibilities under the handicapped provisions of the Fair Housing Law, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website.
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