The Official Website of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)

Search

Fair Housing Act: Handicap Coverage

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing and related transactions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, handicap and national origin.

Who is Handicapped as Defined by the Fair Housing Act?

A person who:

  • has a physical or mental impairment (including, but not limited to, hearing, mobility, visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, and AIDS related complex and mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • has a record of such an impairment; or
  • is regarded as having an impairment.

Note: "major life activities" means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.

Who May File a Complaint?

Any person who:

  • claims to have been injured; or
  • believes that he or she will be injured by a discriminatory housing practice that is about to occur.
  • may be aggrieved of a handicap of any person associated with that person or any person residing in or intending to reside in the dwelling after it is sold, rented, or made available. An individual need not be a handicapped person to file a complaint.

For What Acts May a Handicap Discrimination Complaint Be Filed?

  • Refusing to rent, sell, or deal with a person, or otherwise denying a unit or making it unavailable because of handicap;
  • Falsely representing that a unit is not available because of handicap;
  • Discriminating in the terms, conditions or privileges of sale, rental, occupancy, or in services or facilities in connection with a dwelling because of handicap;
  • Advertising or otherwise stating a preference or limitation related to handicap;
  • Soliciting, for profit, residents to sell their homes because handicapped persons, either individuals or group homes, reside in or are moving into a neighborhood;
  • Discriminating on the basis of handicap in making or purchasing loans secured by residential real estate and in selling, brokering or appraising residential real estate;
  • Limiting access to brokerage services because of handicap;
  • Selectively enforcing land use, zoning, or other ordinances, or selectively enforcing private deed covenants, against handicapped persons;
  • Inquiring whether or how severely persons are handicapped, except to determine eligibility for a program, a priority or reasonable accommodation for persons with handicaps;
  • Failing, after request from a handicapped person, to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services needed to afford a handicapped person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling;
  • Refusing to permit a handicapped person to make reasonable modifications at his or her own expense, to existing housing or common use areas (lobbies, main entrances, laundry rooms, etc.) necessary for their full enjoyment of the premises;
  • Failing to design and construct certain buildings of four or more units in such a manner as to incorporate accessibility and adaptive design features described in the Act;
  • Attempting to intimidate, ccoerce or deter a person from filing a complaint or lawsuit alleging handicap discrimination, or retaliating against a person for doing so; and
  • Threatening, intimidating, or interfering with a person's enjoyment of a dwelling because the resident is handicapped or associates with a handicapped person