Tenant rights (including eviction and state sanitary code)
All applicants/residents/tenants have certain rights under landlord-tenant law.
An applicant/resident/tenant with a disability does not have more or less rights under these laws because of their disability.
You can find basic information about tenant’s rights at the Office of the Attorney General, Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, and legal aid agencies (the Housing section of MassLegalHelp has useful information on many housing topics).
The Housing Court has a Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP), which is a homelessness prevention program for individuals facing an eviction as a result of behavior related to a disability.
If your question is about the state sanitary code, your recourse would be to contact your city/town’s Board of Health.
Consumer protection laws cover homeowners who engage with contractors to make home improvements such as accessibility modifications. If you have an issue with a contractor you have hired or worked with, file a complaint with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
A person with a disability who is searching for affordable housing will have access to the same resources as a person without a disability.
Where can I get help in finding housing?
Housing Consumer Education Centers are regional agencies that provide up-to-date information about affordable housing in Massachusetts. Tenants, landlords, prospective buyers, and homeowners can access information designed to maximize housing stability, strengthen investments, and minimize disputes. Find your regional Housing Consumer Education Center.
The Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) provides a useful Housing Search Guide for People with Disabilities in Massachusetts. Most of the information is also helpful to people who have low-income.
I am a person with a disability and have a low income, what are my options for housing?
There are both state and federal programs that subsidize housing for people who have low income. In most cases, recipients of housing subsidies pay 30% of their gross income towards rent and the government pays the remainder. The Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Guide to Obtaining Housing Assistance explains subsidized housing in more detail. It also provides contact information for local housing authorities.
Where do I apply for subsidized housing?
Housing subsidies can be project based or tenant based.
A project based subsidy is one that is tied to an apartment or a whole housing development. A recipient moves in and has subsidized rent as long as they live there. Local housing authorities and privately managed subsidized developments are examples of project based subsidies. To apply for a project based subsidy you would submit an application to each local housing authority and/or privately managed development in which you are interested. You may search privately subsidized managed developments through Mass Housing finance agency, or on the map provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (the tutorial can be helpful in understanding how to use the map features to search).
A tenant based subsidy or a “housing voucher” allows the recipient to have subsidized rent in the private market. The subsidy/voucher belongs to the recipient which means that when they end a lease and move they can take the subsidy with them. There are two large centralized lists for the federal Section 8 voucher:
- Section 8 Centralized Waiting List website
- On the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Pre-Application form
A state issued housing voucher, Alternative Housing Voucher Program, is available to people with disabilities who are eligible for elderly/disabled housing but are not elderly.
How can I find housing that works for my disability?
When searching for housing you should be aware of how any physical or health conditions may impact you in using particular features in your home, with particular focus on the entrance and the bathroom.
The Accessible Housing Registry is a database that allows users to search for accessible features in market rate and subsidized housing including wheelchair accessible units, ground floor/elevator units, and units with roll-in showers.
Home modification loan resources
Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission provides a useful listing of resources for loans to perform modifications to make a home more accessible to a person with a disability.