The Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988, prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status and national origin. Its coverage includes private housing, housing that receives federal financial assistance, as well as state and local government housing.
It is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing, to deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual associated with the buyer or renter, or an individual who intends to live in the residence. Other covered activities include, for example, financing, zoning practices, new construction design and advertising.
The Fair Housing Act requires owners of housing facilities to make reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people with disabilities equal housing opportunities. For example, a landlord with a "no pets" policy may be required to grant an exception to this rule and allow an individual who is blind to keep a guide dog in the residence.
In a Joint Statement of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and The Department of Justice (March 5, 2008), recipients of federal funds are prohibited from refusing to permit, at the expense of the person with a disability, reasonable modifications of existing premises, if such modifications may be necessary to afford a person with disabilities, full enjoyment of the premises.
The Act further requires that new multi-family housing with four or more units be designed and built to allow access for persons with disabilities. This includes accessible common use areas, doors that are wide enough for wheelchairs, kitchens and bathrooms that allow a person using a wheelchair to maneuver, and other adaptable features within the unit.