Need Accessible Housing in D.C.?
You Have Rights. - Vol. I
Know Your Rights
If you (or a family member) have a disability and need wheelchair accessible housing, then under federal law you have certain RIGHTS. If you live in a privately-owned building that has 4 or more units and was built after March 13, 1991, the Fair Housing Act applies and requires your landlord* to ensure:
The building must have at least one accessible path leading to the building entrance.
The common areas (e.g. laundry room, mail room, trash room) must be accessible.
All the doors should be wide enough to allow wheelchairs
There should be accessible paths so that you can move through the apartment.
Light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls should be lower so you can reach them.
Bathroom walls should be reinforced to allow grab bars to be installed around toilet, tub, and shower stall
The space in kitchens and bathrooms should be wide enough for a wheelchair to move around.
If you live in a privately-owned building with a Section 8 voucher, the Fair Housing Act applies:
You can transfer your Section 8 voucher to another unit that meets your needs for accessibility. You must locate a unit that will accept your Section 8 voucher, and be sure to comply with your current lease requirements about notifying your landlord before moving out.
See your rights listed above.
If you live in any private building no matter when it was built:
The landlord should let you as the tenant pay for any reasonable modifications (which will need to be removed when you vacate the unit) *Your LANDLORD is the person, agency, or company you pay your rent to every month.
Steps You Should Take
Take If you live in a privately-owned building with a Section 8 voucher, then the Fair Housing Act applies and you should:
Let your landlord know what you need to make your apartment accessible.
Ask your landlord to build a ramp, install grab bars, or install accessible levers and door handles Note: There is no legal requirement that your landlord pay for these changes.
Ask your landlord to let you (as tenant) pay for any modifications (and then undo them before you move).
Go to the DCHA ADA Coordinator to request a transfer to another building using your Section 8 voucher, or call 202-535-1435 (DCHA Section 8 office).
Check your lease conditions to see what it says about notifying the landlord prior to moving out.
Call University Legal Services at (202) 547-0198 to discuss your accessibility needs and eligibility for the Handicapped Accessibility Improvement Program (HAIP) or an Assistive Technology (AT)/ Low Cost Loan to build a ramp.