Chapter 151B: Reasonable Accommodations – Housing

Here is information on Reasonable Accommodations and how to file a complaint of housing discrimination.

Massachusetts General Laws CHAPTER 151B, SECTION 4, PARAGRAPH 7A
Reasonable Accommodations

What Are They?

Changes in rules, policies, practices or services which provide a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

What Are Some Specific Examples?

  1. A person who uses a service animal must be allowed to keep the animal in the unit regardless of a “no pet” policy.
  2. A person with a mobility impairment could request that the owner arrange to have his/her garbage taken to the dumpster when the policy is that each tenant is responsible for the garbage removal.
  3. A person with a mobility impairment could request a reserved parking space close to the building when it is the policy of the owner to provide parking on a “first come, first serve” basis.
  4. An owner might be required to take a person’s disability into account when reviewing that person’s rental application. The fact that a person wasn’t able to pay her/his rent on time because of a disability should not reflect negatively on the applicant.

Are any changes Exempt?

Yes. Reasonable accommodations do not require that an owner change or alter the services s/he provides, or what is being basically offered – the unit. The owner is not required to provide personal care or medical services for the person with the disability. For an owner to argue that other accommodations are unreasonable, s/he would have to prove that making the change would impose an undue hardship on him or her. Factors to be considered in determining whether an accommodation would impose an undue hardship include:

  • the nature of the accommodation
  • the cost of the accommodation
  • the extent the accommodation would materially alter the marketability of the housing;
  • the size of the owner’s overall housing business, including

– the number of units
– the type of units
– budget and assets and

  • the owner’s ability to recover accommodation costs through a federal tax deduction.

What can a Disabled Person Do if the Owner Refuses to Make or Allow for Reasonable Accommodations?

The person has a right to file a complaint of housing discrimination with both the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Your MCAD and HUD complaint(s) can be taken at MCAD‘s offices
Boston 617-994-6000
Springfield 413-739-2145
Worcester 508-799-8010
New Bedford 508-990-2390

For additional information on how to file a HUD complaint, call Toll Free: 800-827-5005

Your local Independent Living Center, they may also be able to assist you in filing these complaints.

 

Fact Sheet last updated on: 8/31/2016