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Housing Protections for People with Disabilities

Learn about reasonable accommodations and other housing protections for people with disabilities. 

Reasonable accommodations are changes in rules, practices, or services that the landlord can reasonably make  that give equal access to renters with disabilities. 

If your disability limits your ability to keep, enter, or use a rental home or common area, you may ask the landlord for a reasonable accommodation. Some examples are:

  • A disability assistance animal for a physical or mental disability, even if the landlord has a no pets policy; 
  • A dedicated parking spot that is close to your unit, if you have a mobility disability;
  • Allowing you to pay rent on the 15th of the month instead of the 1st if you receive your disability income after rent is due;
  • Avoiding eviction if the eviction is related to the disability; or 
  • Giving you more time to move out if the landlord wants to evict you.

A reasonable modification is a kind of reasonable accommodation. Reasonable modifications are changes to your rental home related to your disability. For example, installing:

  • Grab bars in the shower or bathtub;
  • A wheelchair ramp; or 
  • A visual doorbell.

Housing law protects people with a physical or mental disability that substantially limits at least one major life activity.

Examples of a major life activity are:

  • Seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, 
  • Walking, climbing, standing, lifting, 
  • Thinking, concentrating, interacting with others, learning, and
  • Self-care (includes thing like eating, bathing, and using the bathroom).

  • Alcoholism is a disability. 
  • Previous drug use/addiction is also a disability. 
  • Current use of illegal drugs is not a disability.

It depends on your rental situation. 

  • For renters in public housing: your landlord must pay.
  • For renters in private housing: you must pay for reasonable modifications to your rental.

You can ask for a reasonable accommodation or modification at any time. This includes:

  • When you apply to rent (or right after), 
  • While you are renting, and
  • To prevent an eviction.

You can ask in any way. But it is best to ask in writing, so you have proof that you asked. You can use the landlord’s form if they have one, write your own letter, or use this sample letter as a guide. Keep a copy of your request. In your letter, ask your landlord to respond by a certain deadline.

Your letter should also say: 

  • Why you need the requested accommodation for your disability, 
  • How the accommodation will help you live in your home, and
  • The connection between the symptoms of your disability and the accommodation you’re asking for.

Always keep copies of letters you send your landlord! 

No. You do not have to tell your landlord a diagnosis, or provide a full copy of your medical history. You do need to tell your landlord what the connection is between your disability symptoms and the accommodation you’re asking for.

Examples of reasonable accommodation requests: 

  • You live with depression and anxiety, and your assistance animal helps with the symptoms of those disabilities. You can say, “My disability makes it hard for me to get out of bed in the morning. My assistance animal helps me get up and take care of my daily activities."
  • You live with a disability that affects your balance, which makes it hard to walk. You can say, “My disability makes walking hard for me. I need a parking space close to my unit so that I can walk to my car more easily.”

Yes, unless your disability is obvious. For example, if you use a wheelchair that makes it obvious that you have a mobility disability, a landlord cannot ask for proof of that. 

If your disability is not visible, a landlord or housing provider can ask for a disability verification letter from a professional that says: 

  1. You have a disability, and
  2. Your disability makes the accommodation you asked for necessary.

You can give this letter to your landlord along with your request for the reasonable accommodation.

The professional can be any person who knows about your disability and your needs. It does not have to be a health professional. 

You can ask a:

  • Doctor,
  • Psychologist,
  • Counselor,
  • Religious leader, 
  • Social services worker, or 
  • Case manager.

The professional’s letter must explain:

  1. Their job,
  2. How they know you,
  3. That you have a disability, 
  4. That you need the accommodation to fully use, maintain, and enjoy the housing, and
  5. What the connection is between the accommodation you’re asking for and your disability.

Important! Reasonable accommodations must be necessary. The letter should say you “need” or “must have” the accommodation.

It’s OK to ask for an accommodation that costs some money. But you cannot make a landlord pay for an accommodation that would cause an "undue financial burden." 

An undue burden depends on:

  • Your landlord’s financial situation,
  • The cost of the accommodation,
  • The benefits of the accommodation to you, and
  • If there are other, less expensive accommodations that would meet your needs.

No. But a landlord can require you to pay for an accommodation that makes changes to the rental—like installing a ramp or a grab bar (unless you live in public housing).


Landlords cannot discriminate against you because you need an assistance animal. A landlord must not:

  • Refuse to rent to you,
  • Charge you pet rent or a pet deposit because you need an assistance animal, 
  • Require that your animal be certified or professionally trained, 
  • Make you get extra insurance, or
  • Require you to have a certain breed or type of animal.

Your landlord can have rules for your assistance animal. Your landlord can require your assistance animal to:

  • Be licensed,
  • Have its shots,
  • Be legal to own where you live, 
  • Be under reasonable control, and 
  • Not be dangerous, destructive, or disturb others. 

Your landlord can also require you to: 

  • Clean up after your animal, 
  • Take steps to keep your animal from making too much noise, and
  • Pay for damage caused by your assistance animal. 

Your landlord can end your rental agreement if you don't follow these rules. 

Yes, but only if one or more of these situations applies:

  1. The request is not related to your disability. For example, if you have bad credit because of unpaid credit cards, it would not be reasonable to ask your landlord to waive the credit score requirement to rent. But if your credit score is bad because of unpaid medical bills related to your disability, you may be able to ask the landlord to waive the credit score requirement.

  2. The request would be unreasonably difficult for the landlord (an undue burden). For example, it is unreasonable to ask your landlord not to charge you rent because your disability payments arrive after rent is due. This would be an unfair financial burden for the landlord. But, it could be reasonable to ask your landlord to change the deadline to pay rent until after your disability payments arrive.

  3. The request would change the nature of the landlord’s rental housing. For example, it is not reasonable to ask your landlord to take care of your pet because you cannot do it yourself. This would change the landlord’s business to a pet care business. But, it could be reasonable to ask your landlord to allow you to have someone come visit you every day to help take care of your pet.

  4. The landlord can prove that your request could harm the health, safety, or property of others. For example, it is not reasonable to ask your landlord to approve an assistance animal that bit your neighbor. The landlord can require you to get a different assistance animal because your animal is a safety threat to others.

Your landlord must:

  1. Explain why your request is not reasonable, and
  2. Talk to you about other possible accommodations that might meet your needs. If there is another way to meet your needs that is reasonable, your landlord should approve it.

If you provided proper proof that you need an accommodation, and it is reasonable, you can sue your landlord or file a discrimination complaint with an agency.

If your landlord does not answer you within a reasonable time, send your letter again.

Also include another letter that says you did not get an answer to the first letter. Ask the landlord to answer the first letter by a specific date. 

If your landlord ignores your letter again, or if the landlord takes action against you, you may be able to sue your landlord for housing discrimination. You can find a lawyer using the Referral Database

There are three ways that you can make a legal claim against your landlord for discrimination:

  • Find a lawyer to file a lawsuit for you, or file a lawsuit on your own
  • File a complaint with Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). For more information, call them at (971) 673-0764 or visit the Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries website.
  • File a complaint with the United States Bureau of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For more information, call HUD at (800) 877-0246. HUD also has an online complaint process on their website. 

If you aren't sure which option is right for you, get legal help

Don’t wait too long before taking action! If you decide to file a complaint, you must make your complaint no later than one year after the discrimination happened. If you decide to file a lawsuit, you must start the case no later than two years after the discrimination happened. 


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