Can a landlord refuse to rent to a potential tenant because of disability?

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Can a landlord refuse to rent to a potential tenant because of disability?

Is a landlord allowed to refuse to rent to tenant based on disability status? I have a permanent total disability that prevents me from working, so I receive SSI. Even though I have funds to cover the rent, I was told flat-out ‘Yeah sorry but I want someone employed’ lack of commas in original. This seems awfully like discrimination to me. Is this legal?

Asked on March 25, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is not even close to legal to not rent to you due to your disability. Federal law specifically makes it illegal to discriminate against someone in housing due to their disability; you could file a legal complaint with HUD about this.
It would be different if your SSI were insufficient to cover the rent: a landlord may refuse to rent due to a tenant's financial unsuitability. But if you have (and can prove) enough funds to cover the rent, the landlord may not reuse to rent to you.


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