How to Get Help or File Complaints for Housing Problems

29572222_1589118734477057_7169169845646347710_n.jpg
Art: Robin Mead

If you have a request for your landlord or housing agency, here’s the Golden Rule:

Always make your request in writing and always ask for a decision in writing. Never let them turn you down verbally and whatever you do never take no for an answer over the phone.

If the written decision is “no” or if they refuse to give you a written decision, below you will find a long list of places you can contact for help.

Some of our readers report success by calling everywhere on this list. If the first few places you call aren’t helpful, don’t give up hope. Just keep calling!


SOLVING HOUSING ISSUES

Most of our readers report that the easiest and fastest way to resolve housing problems was through disability accommodation requests. Learn how to do this: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters

If you’ve already submitted a request and it got denied. don’t worry. Most readers were able to fix this problem on their own: If Your Disability Accommodation is Denied

GENERAL HOUSING ISSUES

HUD Regional Field Office
Contact to ask questions or report problems about your local HUD office.

Legal Aid
Free legal help for people who are low-income

More legal aid programs
More legal aid

Tenants Rights Organizations
Find tenants rights programs in your state

HUD Office of Inspector General
For problems with HUD buildings and HUD Agencies: Report waste, abuse, substantial dangers, employee misconduct, or serious mismanagement.

Housing Counseling Agencies
Provide advice on housing issues

HUD Housing complaint line
Phone line to report bad landlords. Not for private landlords. Only for HUD and HUD-assisted properties.

IF SOMEONE IN HOUSEHOLD IS DISABLED

Disability Rights Agencies
Legal help with disability issues

Online Fair Housing Complaint Form
Online form for reporting disability discrimination, fair housing complaints and denials of reasonable accommodation requests.

Fair Housing Local Agencies
Assists with disability discrimination and other fair housing issues.

Fair Housing State Offices
Assists with disability discrimination, other kinds of discrimination, and fair housing. You can also check these links to websites for state fair housing offices.

Fair Housing Regional Offices
Enforces disability discrimination, other kinds of discrimination, and fair housing laws

State Civil Rights Offices
Assists with civil rights violations, fair housing, disability protections

Fair Housing Headquarters
A million different phone numbers that go directly to the fair housing staff at the national office.

Local Groups That Help with Evictions
Directory of local groups that provide assistance.

Unsafe, Unfit, or Unhealthy Housing

Here’s where you can report building code violations and unsafe housing:

Try Googling the name of your town, city, or county and the word “code enforcement.” Also, look up your local Health Department.

Here’s Liam’s story of filing a complaint. Plus tips you can use to file a complaint:

LOW INCOME BUILDINGS

  • Many low income buildings are owned and run by larger corporations. If you are having a problem with the property manager, or you think you have been told incorrect information, you can ask for the contact information for their corporate office or regional office.
  • Request the name and number of the person at the corporate office who handles this property. This person may know more of the rules and may be able to help you or answer questions.
  • If you’re having problems with disability accommodations, ask for the name and number of the person who handles compliance with the Fair Housing Act.
  • You can also request a copy of the buildings policies or administrative plans, or it may be available for you to read at the property manager’s office.

Reach Out For Help

Social Workers – Information on where to find a Social Worker who may be able to assist you with housing and other issues

Area Agency on Aging – Call them even if you are young! They also serve younger people with disabilities.

Independent Living Centers – Community centers run by people with disabilities. May be able to provide guidance or connect you with local help and resources.

Wheelchair Accessible / Disability Accessible Spaces

Access Board – File a complaint about building accessibility

US Department of Justice ADA Complaint – Mail and fax for filing an Americans Disability Act complaint

Higher Powers

People and places who may be able to help you get your housing issues noticed. They are not going to take on solving your problem, but you can contact them ask if they can make ONE PHONE CALL for you. Sometimes one phone call from someone higher up can magically change everything!

Try Googling the name of your city, town, county or state and the words:

  • Attorney general office
  • Mayor
  • Consumer protection agencies
  • Elected officials
  • TV and newspaper reporters
  • City commissioner
  • Code enforcement officer
  • “Human rights complaint” or “human rights commission” or “human rights office”

Congressperson’s Office

Staff people at your congressperson’s office can also make a phone call for you, and get a great response! They can assist with problems with government agencies (particularly if an agency has broken a rule or made a mistake)

How to Get Help from Your Congressperson’s Office 

Denials and Terminations

  • If your housing application has been denied or your assistance has been terminated, you have the right to appeal.
  • The denial letter should give you information on how to appeal.
  • If this information is not included, send a certified letter or email stating you are requesting an appeal on this decision and asking how you can appeal.
  • Also contact your local legal aide program to request assistance.

Disability Accommodations Can Help Solve Problems

Many of our readers successfully resolved their disability-realted housing problems by making a reasonable accommodation requests. Popular requests:

Learn more: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters

Strategies and next steps. If Your Disability Accommodation is Denied

Magic Sentences

Sometimes people who work at agencies mean well but don’t know all the rules. If someone is saying “no” to you, you can always request to speak to a supervisor who may know more of the rules or you can find and print out a copy of the policy yourself to show them. Here’s a few magic sentences that can turn a no into a yes. Magic! 24 Magic Sentences That Can Change a “No” to a “Yes”

Rent Issues

If you want more details on how your rent was calculated, try requesting a copy of your Family Report. Some Housing Authorities will automatically send this to you each year.

If your rent feels too high, the first step is to figure out the reason why. If you can figure out the problem, you might be able to figure out the solution: 

Why is My Rent So High? (Low Income Apartments)

Why is My Rent So High? (Housing Vouchers)

Lawsuits

You can sue your landlord in federal or small claims court. This guide is for California but also includes national laws: Suing Your Landlord in Small Claims Court

The first step in a court case is often filing a complaint. Liam started with a complaint and was able to resolve his issue through mediation, so he never needed the lawsuit: Liam’s Amazing Housing Discrimination Journey

Learn More

Section 8 Guide For the Disabled and Plucky

Please comment below. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.

9 thoughts on “How to Get Help or File Complaints for Housing Problems”

  1. Hello- Thank you for all of this much needed “dry” information presented in such a straight forward humorous fashion. I am on SSDI and have finally gotten a voucher from the town next to where I am currently staying. As I understand that means unless I get permission, I need to stay in the voucher town for the first year. I am willing to go anywhere in the first year that is within reasonable distance to my doctor’s office/hospital (2 cancers in a row and just finished chemo a few months ago). With that being said, my first question is what do I do when the section 8 rep emailed me the voucher and will do nothing to help me find housing in a very expensive market. I have tried to set up a meeting and she claimed COVID and to send her a list of questions instead. So, I sent her an email with 5 questions and answered nothing. I tried again with only 3 questions and again no response to my question but typed http://www.gosection8.com. Is that all the help I can expect from my section 8 rep? I normally would have been talking to her boss but isn’t this the person that I am going to have to deal with all year long? Since I am on disability and have extensive medical expenses, someone is going to have to calculate the deduction (is she going to be this unhelpful then also?). I have been trying to figure it all out on my own but it seems like something is off….there must be a section 8 specialist who knows all of these things that I am spending hours learning. Thank you for any advice you can give me. – Katie

    Like

    1. I’m very sorry for the slow reply and hope that you were able to find a place. If not, you should be able to request additional extensions on your voucher if you need extra time because of your disability. We have had other readers here who have gotten extensions for as much as a year.

      I agree with you that it’s unfortunate that housing workers are not more helpful. Many of our readers have learned all of the rules them selves and this has helped them get much better housing

      Many of our readers have found that using reasonable accommodations has allowed them to find housing that really meets their needs. You can learn more about reasonable accommodations and how to find a landlord to accept your voucher on this page: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/sample-disability-accommodation-letters-housing/

      Like

  2. Who do I call, or talk to about the absolute lack of affordable housing in my city and county I live in. It looks to many like a small town. But the homeless population is extremely high. There are not very many low income housing. I think there is 1 very small less that 50 unit apt complexes, in each city, in my county. Which is 10 cities. All of them are low income 55+ complexes leaving no housing for any one else. Then they just built a new one I was in the wait list for for 4 years. Until they took me off because 3 out of my 4 children are grown now and moved out. I am 100% disabled. I have been homeless couch surfing for 6 years looking every single day for help. I am so sick of the county mostly the cities inability to make housing available to those that don’t do drugs, have 15 kids, and are as responsible as those that are lucky enough to be able to have jobs and a house. I believe there has been a misguided understanding on that of low income people. Not every person needing housing is a drug addict with 15 kids and perfectly capable of working. I’ve sent several wonderful letters with multiple genius ideas for housing. Mainly just to get a home. But to help them home those needing a place to come home to. So if anyone has any further advice where I can go to complain of the cities inability to house us, please help me. If you are an investor that has the money but not the time to put forth. Please contact me. I have the perfect idea that will literally make you money forever. This will also get you approved for multiple government grants that do not have to be paid back. This is an opportunity that will bring homes for those in need and a good residual income for years and years. Most of the work is already done. I’ve researched this for years. It’s a long shot for me to reach someone out there that truly wants to help. I will do it all for a home to rest my head. I promise that, this will turn this town around.

    Like

  3. There has been a lack of professional dialogue from some of the housing authority management including the director at the main office in our city. Sometimes there are threats to evict you to keep you in your place. You can’t go to the director & sucessfully express concerns or complaints sometimes because they stick together whether wrong or right. For example when I complained about one of the managers unprofessional actions & overcharged me for printing an important document from my files the director immediately told me no, it didn’t matter & that I was to blame. He began bringing up a late rent payment which had nothing to do about my grievances I was discussing at that moment. He said instead of complaining that I should be saying thank you.The thing is I turned in my rent on the 5th day at 3:38 PM. They said the deadline was 3:30. Currently the deadline is 5 pm. or when the office closes that day. I was on time but waiting behind two other residents that afternoon in the rent offices. I explained I had just got off work to get there in time. Eventually I was told I had one more chance but would be evicted if I turned it in late again. My concerns again had nothing to do with the rent. In fact that didn’t even make sense because at that time that had occurred 2 months ago. You always feel like speaking your concerns that they will use their influence to intimidate & threaten to have you evicted. I’m not the only one who feels this way. Many of us do but few of us say anything so we remain outnumbered. This type of culture promotes a lack of progress in professional interpersonal communication.
    It also allows more infrequent reporting of this & other complaints because nobody wants to lose their home.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, what a very thorough website and beautiful art work! I live in USDA senior and disabled multi family housing. Do HUD laws apply to USDA? I have tried to call them but they never return my calls. Thanks for the website.

    Like

    1. Hi Judy,

      this is an excellent question and I do not know the answer exactly.

      Most laws for fair housing, non discrimination and accommodations are likely to be the same, the fair housing act and section 504 is going to apply to both HUD and USDA.

      But then there are specific HUD policies for each hud program, they vary by program, many may be similar to USDA, but I can’t say they are all identical.

      You might want to look online for USDA regs specifically to get more clarity, and also see if your particular property has regs of their own as well.

      I hope it goes well for you

      If you like, you can also join the fb group:
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/220827085367015/

      Like

  5. I’m having some issues with my public housing unit- it’s quiteout-dated and old,and I’m having many problems with heating my home. I would like to transfer to another public housing unit conglomerate owned by the same county, but I am afraid they will send me to a huge tower of apartments they have available and not another set of units that would work better for me. I have been told that this set of units (the ones that would be better for me) is not open for people to move to anymore? I am disabled and I don’t see why I couldn’t transfer there. I’m not sure what to say in my reasonable accommodation request. Can someone help me with this? I would really appreciate it.

    Like

    1. I think the first step is to think about if there is a specific reason why these units would better meet your disability needs than an apartment building. You’d also want to think if there are any disability-related reasons why your current apartment is not working well for you. If you join the disability HUD facebook group, there may be people there who can share their own experiences with you about requesting transfers.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s