Disability Advocacy

Since 1992, our office has successfully assisted fair housing cases for people with disabilities (see our litigation log or press releases page. Examples include: Access Granted for Young Woman with a Disability; $40,000 Fair Housing Win: Pit Bull Support Animal Reunited with Family; FHC Settles Case for Wheelchair User Forced to Crawl into Home).

But not all our work ends up in the litigation process. The FHC resolves over a dozen reasonable accommodation and modification requests for people with disabilities a year. Below are some examples of our work towards equal access and housing opportunity for all. You can read many more stories in our newsletters.

If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination or need help with a reasonable accommodation or modification, please contact the Fair Housing Center at 877-979-FAIR or email us at complaints@fhcmichigan.org.

You can find information on reasonable accommodations, reasonable modifications, emotional support animals, and medical documentation examples on our Fact Sheet page.

  • Parking Issues Resolved
    Two Reasonable Accommodations, Washtenaw County

The first case involved an 83-year-old disabled veteran who was told he could no longer keep his automobile in his covered carport near the entrance of his building. Our complainant paid a monthly fee for the carport and used his car occasionally. The staff at the apartment complex for seniors claimed he didn’t use his car and threatened to have it towed. Fearing the cost of getting his car towed, he moved the car off the premises. In a letter to the property, FHC staff demanded to know how much driving was required for each tenant to keep a car at the property and asked that our complainant’s parking space not be rented to another tenant. Upon further investigation it became clear that no written rules exist covering car usage. In the end, our complainant’s carport rental agreement was reinstated.

In the second case, a woman with a physical disability needed a parking space near the entrance of her apartment. It took two letters from FHC staff to get her the spot she requested.

  • Termination of Lease Without Penalty
    Two Reasonable Accommodations, Monroe and Washtenaw Counties

A woman living with cerebral palsy needed to break her lease because she could no longer safely enter and exit her apartment. She was told the step up to her unit would not be adjusted to ease her entrance, and that she would have to pay two months’ rent to break her lease. A letter from the FHC resulted in the complainant breaking her lease without a penalty. A man with a physical disability who lived in a second floor unit could no longer climb stairs. FHC staff asked that he be let out of his lease without penalty as a reasonable accommodation of his disability. His request was granted.

  • FHC Stops Evictions for People with Emotional Disability Concerns
    Three Reasonable Accommodations, Livingston (2) and Washtenaw Counties

In the first case, our complainant received an eviction notice based on his reaction to loud noise from his neighbors. We negotiated a plan to stop the eviction, allowing the man to remain in his home until the end of his lease.

The second case concerned a family whose son is living with autism. The family was sent an eviction notice after witnesses claimed they saw him putting out a fire. The child was then accused of setting that fire, and several others, on the apartment complex property. FHC staff spoke with the son’s doctor and helped the mother advocate for her son who could not have started the other fires because he was hospitalized at the time. The eviction was dropped.

The third case involved a woman who was sent an eviction notice for having an emotional support animal. FHC staff wrote a letter on her behalf including a letter from her doctor outlining the need for the emotional support dog. The eviction was dropped and she continues to live at the property.

  • Forced Downsize Halted
    Reasonable Accommodation, Calhoun County

We were asked for help by a woman with multiple, severe disabilities. Her doctor prescribed numerous large pieces of equipment to manage her symptoms and pain. Her housing provider told her she had to move to a smaller unit. She asked for a reasonable accommodation to remain in her larger unit and her request was denied. FHC staff reviewed her case and wrote to the housing provider. The accommodation was made and the tenant was allowed to stay in her unit.

  • Assistance Animal Allowed in Assigned Roommate Situation
    Reasonable Accommodation, Washtenaw County

A man with a mental/emotional disability was treated by a doctor who suggested that caring for a dog may help him manage his symptoms. The man explained his situation to his new housing provider. The manager stated that no pets were allowed especially because the unit came with an assigned roommate. Our complainant got written permission from his roommate who was very enthusiastic about the having a dog in their suite. Still, the manager tried to ban the support animal. Letters from the FHC staff led to the dog and the tenant staying in the property.

  • Income Requirements Waived
    Reasonable Accommodation, Washtenaw County

A man with a disability was offered a long awaited space in low income housing. He contacted the FHC to report that he was turned down because his income was not three times that of the rent. FHC staff argued that he had been managing a higher rent in his current residence, that he met the income threshold if they counted only his portion of the rent, and that because of his disability he was unable to earn more income. The accommodation was granted.

  • Ex-Offender Keeps Housing, Parking Space
    Reasonable Accommodation, Washtenaw County

A man with a physical disability lived in his apartment building for three years. He was, by all accounts, an excellent tenant. When a new management company took over, they required that each tenant reapply. Our complainant had a felony record from 14 years ago and for this reason the new managers told him he would have to move at the end of his lease. As a reasonable accommodation, FHC asked for a new lease to be issued, pointing out that our complaint had turned his life around and based on the severity of his disability he was unable to reoffend. The accommodation was granted. The complex later removed his reserved parking space. We asked for a second accommodation to have his reserved parking space returned to him and the accommodation was granted.

  • Late Fees Dropped and $1,100 Refunded
    Reasonable Accommodation, Washtenaw County

A woman receives her disability check from the government on the third Wednesday of the month. Each month her landlord charged her a $35 late fee and an additional $128 in court filing fees. FHC staff requested a return of over $1,100 in fees and to stop future charges related to the timing of her disability income. The money was credited to her account and the late fees have stopped.

  • Caregiver-Related Eviction Dropped
    Reasonable Accommodation, Washtenaw County

A woman with a disability faced eviction when her caregiver was accused of illegal activity on the property. FHC staff met with the property manager and the complainant. When an FHC investigation found there was no evidence of illegal activity, we requested the eviction be dropped and the no trespass order against the caregiver be lifted as a reasonable accommodation of her disability. Both requests were granted.

  • Denial Reversed and Housing Granted
    Reasonable Accommodation, Washtenaw County

A young man with a disability applied to live in an apartment building. After being denied, he asked for a hearing and the denial was reversed. However, months went by and the manager appeared to be stalling, as she asked him for more duplicate paperwork. FHC staff advised the young man’s disability advocate and aided her in writing a letter asking for his file. Shortly after the request he was offered a lease.

  • Illegal “Pet Fees” Stopped
    Reasonable Accommodation, Washtenaw County

A young woman with a disability applied to live in an apartment building with her emotional support animal. The landlord said he didn’t allow pets. She supplied a letter from her doctor and the landlord permitted the animal but only if she paid “pet rent.” After living at the apartment for 11 months and paying the “pet rent,” she learned about fair housing laws and contacted the Fair Housing Center. FHC staff wrote a letter informing the landlord that emotional support animals are not pets and asking that, as a reasonable accommodation under the law, the owner refund the “pet rent” already paid and discontinue charging the illegal fee. The accommodation was granted: $275 was refunded and the landlord agreed to stop future charges.

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