Discrimination and Fair Housing- HIV/AIDS

Housing Discrimination: Rights of Persons with HIV and AIDS

The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits the denial of housing to a person based on the Person's membership in one or more of the classes protected under the Act. The protected classes are race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status and handicap.

Under the Act, handicap means with respect to a person:

  1. A physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities,
  2. a record of such an impairment or
  3.  being regarded as having such an impairment.

The term does not include current, illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance. In the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's regulations, both HIV infection and AIDS are considered to be an impairment. Also, federal cases have defined HIV infection and AIDS as a handicap.

It is therefore illegal to discriminate against a person in the provision of housing because that person has HIV infection or AIDS; has a record of having HIV infection or AIDS; is perceived as having HIV infection or AIDS; is associated with persons with HIV infection or AIDS; or has a person with HIV infection or AIDS residing with them.

Examples of illegal discrimination under the federal Fair Housing Act based upon a person's handicap are:

False Denial of Availability.

Advising that there are no available units when, in fact, there are: "Sorry we just rented the last unit."

Refusal to rent or sell because of handicap.

"We do not rent to persons who have AIDS or who have friends with AIDS."

Discriminatory terms and conditions and provision of services or facilities.

"The rent is $200 higher for persons with a handicap or persons with friends with a handicap"

Refusal to permit a reasonable modification to the unit at the expense of the person with a handicap, in order that the person may have full enjoyment of the unit.

"You may not install grab bars in the bathroom."

Denial of a reasonable accommodation to the rules and regulations of rental in order that the person with a handicap may have equal opportunity to use and fully enjoy their unit.

"It's against the rules to have another person live with you, even though there is enough room and the person is necessary to help you with your health needs."

The Fair Housing Project

West Tennessee Legal Services is available to provide information concerning a person's rights under the Federal Fair Housing Act. If you believe you are a victim of discrimination in housing, contact us at 800.372.8346 or 731.423.0616 for assistance. When necessary, staff can assist you in filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or other appropriate administrative or judicial bodies.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against in a housing situation, please fill out and return the reply card attached to this brochure. A housing counselor will discuss the situation with you and help you to decide what to do next. Your response to us will be kept confidential.

"The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication: Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government."

For more information or to apply for assistance:

West Tennessee Legal Services


Toll Free: 1-800-372-8346 ext. 1250

Fax: 731-423-2600

Email: wtls@wtls.org

To download a copy of this brochure, please click here.

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