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Section 3: Applicable Federal and State Laws

Federal, state, and local laws require a housing provider to grant reasonable accommodations or reasonable modifications to people with disabilities. While many laws use the term “handicap,” that term is disfavored, so this Guidebook uses the term “disability,” which has the same legal meaning.

Federal laws that apply to the housing rights of people with disabilities include the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. In Illinois, the Illinois Human Rights Act also applies.

Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968

Also known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, was passed to protect individuals against housing discrimination. It prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. It was amended in 1988 to prohibit discrimination based on disability and familial status. The U.S.Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) enforces the FHA.

Section 504 Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Prohibits discrimination based on disability by any entity that receives federal financial assistance, such as public housing authorities, privately owned buildings that receive federal funds (e.g. project-based Section 8 units), and federally-funded housing programs.


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The ADA generally does not cover housing, except as follows: Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability in state and local government housing programs (e.g. state-funded housing); and Title III of the ADA covers discrimination in leasing and property management offices that are open to the public. The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) enforces the ADA.

Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA)

Prohibits discrimination in employment, financial credit, public accommodations, and real estate transactions based on disability and other protected classes.10 The IHRA, like the Fair Housing Act, makes it unlawful to discriminate in the sale or rental of residential property. The Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) enforces the IHRA.



Local Ordinances

Municipalities or local governments may have ordinances that require reasonable accommodations and modifications for people with disabilities. For example, if the housing is in Chicago, applicable local ordinances include the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance and the Chicago Fair Housing Ordinance.