How to Get Help or File Complaints for Housing Problems

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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!


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.

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.

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

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.

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

  1. 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.

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  2. 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.

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    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

  3. 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.

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    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.

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