How to Show That Your Disability Accommodation is Disability-Related

Homecoming_by_Robin_Mead
Art: Robin Mead

If you request a disability accommodation, does your landlord have to approve it? Does your Housing Authority have to approve it?

Yes! Sort of! Maybe!

According the Fair Housing Act, turning down your accommodation is discrimination and against the law. Except when it’s not.

There are a few reasons why your landlord or Housing Authority can legally deny your request. One of the most common reasons for denial is because the person did not show a connection between their disability and their disability accommodation. Here’s a few examples:


Request for exception to guest policy

Less likely to get approved: “I’m disabled and want my mom to stay for three months”

More likely to get approved: “I am requesting a reasonable accommodation for an exception to your policy on overnight guests. My disability requires a major surgery. I will be unable to care for myself without help while recovering. Because of this, my mother needs to stay with me to care for me for three months. I am enclosing a doctor’s letter verifying my need for care after surgery”


Request to get back on wait list 

Request to get back your voucher or get back your spot on the wait list:

Less likely to get approved: “I’m disabled and missed the paperwork deadline”

More likely to get approved: “I am requesting a reasonable accommodation to be reinstated. My disability causes problems with focus, concentration, and following directions. Because of my disability symptoms, I missed the deadline. I am enclosing medical documentation verifying these symptoms.”


Another request to get back on waitlist 

Less likely to get approved: “I’m disabled and missed the paperwork deadline”

More likely to get approved: “I am requesting a reasonable accommodation to be reinstated after I missed a deadline. During this time period, I experienced a severe relapse of my disability symptoms. I was homeless and my disabilities prevented me from being able to regularly access phone, mail and internet. I am enclosing a letter from my case worker verifying that my symptoms were very severe and I was homeless at that time”


Request for Higher Voucher / Above Payment Standard

Less likely to be approved: “I am disabled and the house I want to rent is too expensive for my voucher.”

More likely to be approved: “I am requesting a reasonable accommodation for to go over payment standard because I could not find a house within payment standard that meets my disability needs. I am attaching a list of each place I contacted and why each place did not meet my disability needs. I am also attaching a copy of a letter from my doctor confirming these disability-related housing needs. My housing needs are as follows (examples of disability housing needs).”


Sample Request for Exception to Payment Standard for Child with Autism

Less Likely to Be Approved: My son Johnny needs to live in a single-family home with a fenced in yard and a garage because he has Autism.

More Likely to Be Approved: Johnny needs to live in a single-family home because his disability causes him to have loud uncontrollable outbursts that are disruptive to neighbors and can result in noise complaints. Neighbors knocking on the door to complain can worsen the situation immensely. Johnny’s symptoms are worsened by sounds, especially close ones such of those of neighbors. This can lead to meltdowns, difficulty sleeping, repetitive and obsessive behaviors. Additionally Johnny needs a yard that is fenced in, in order to be able to play and have time outside safely. Due to lack of impulse control, history of elopement, and inability to sense danger, a fence are needed to ensure his safety. The addition of an attached garage is also needed to minimize Johnny’s access to the street. With an attached garage, Johnny could go straight from the house to the vehicle without any exposure to the outside, minimizing the risk of him running into the street.


Request for extension in time to find a landlord

Less likely to get approved: “I’m disabled. I used up my first two deadline extensions and still cannot find a landlord. I need a third extension”

More likely to get approved: “I am requesting a reasonable accommodation for an additional deadline extension on my voucher. I am disabled. Due to my disability, I require an apartment that has the following features: Examples of Disability Housing Needs. Because an apartment with these features is more difficult to find, it is taking me additional time to find a suitable apartment. I am enclosing a doctor’s letter confirming that I need an apartment with these features.”


Another request for extension in time to find a landlord

Less likely to get approved: “I’m disabled. I used up my first two deadline extensions and still cannot find a landlord. I need a third extension”

More likely to get approved: “I am requesting a reasonable accommodation for an additional voucher extension. I have the following limitations: Examples of Disability Limitations. Due to my disability limitations, I am not able to find a landlord or complete the housing search process as quickly as a person who is not disabled. I require extra time to find a landlord. I am enclosing a verification from my case worker confirming that I am unable to leave my home on most days.”


Request for Voucher Reinstatement

Less likely to get approved: “I’m disabled. I wasn’t able to find a landlord so I lost my voucher. I need a disability accommodation to get my voucher back and more time to look.”

More likely to be approved:

Any of the reasons listed above for longer search time: Reasons for Requesting Reinstated


Request for an additional bedroom

Less likely to get approved: “I’m disabled and need an additional bedrooms”

More likely to get approved: “I am requesting a reasonable accommodation for an additional bedroom. Because of my disability, my doctor and physical therapist have prescribed physical therapy activities to be performed in my home. I am requesting an additional bedroom which will be used for the storage and daily use of physical therapy equipment, including a treadmill and exercise equipment that are used in the treatment protocol prescribed by my physical therapist. This space will also be used for in-home sessions with my physical therapist and occupational therapist. These sessions are required to help me maintain my mobility and independence. There is not suitable space to safely and effectively use this equipment in another part of the home. I am enclosing a physical therapist’s letter confirming my need for a separate room for physical therapy activities.”

Also more likely to get approved: “I am disabled and my doctor has prescribed me medical equipment including: (an electric wheelchair, a manual wheelchair, a scooter, a walker, etc). I also require the following items for my disability: (exercise equipment, storage space for medical records, space for offgassing of items for sensitivities, etc). I am requesting a separate bedroom where I will be able to properly and safely use and access my equipment. I cannot keep this equipment in living room or bedroom because it impedes my mobility and puts me at greater risk for falls. In addition, I have a hospital bed in my bedroom and need adequate space to safely transfer in and out of the hospital bed. I am enclosing verification from my doctor that this equipment is medically necessary and that I require a separate bedroom.


Request for a separate bedroom 

Less likely to get approved: “My child is disabled and she cannot share a room. She needs an additional room so she can have her own room.”

More likely to get approved: “I am requesting a reasonable accommodation for a separate bedroom for my child who has disabilities. Due to her disability, she experiences sensory issues as well as outbursts of becoming hyperactive, agitated, and impulsive. Her psychologist has recommended that a separate private bedroom is needed so she will have space to work on calming skills and therapeutic coping mechanisms, and to have somewhere to withdraw to that will allow her to better self-manage her symptoms.”

Warning: Even if the Housing Authority recognizes this as a disability need, they may propose that a different family member sleep in the living room so that no additional bedroom is needed. Reasonable Accommodations & Sleeping in Living Room


Request for exception to screening policy

Less likely to get approved: “I’m disabled and need an exception to your policy on evictions and credit checks”

More likely to get approved: “I am requesting a reasonable accommodation for an exception to your policy on credit checks and evictions. Last year, I had a disabling car accident. I was hospitalized and in rehab centers for four weeks. During this time, I was evicted from my apartment. I am enclosing documentation to show that the eviction process began while I was hospitalized, and that I incurred many medical bills and related debt during this time. I am requesting an exception to your credit and eviction policies due to disability-related circumstances.”


Thanks for Reading

🌷 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Affordable Housing Survival Guide

🌷 Learn more about this topic here: How to Request Disability Accommodations in Affordable Housing

🌷 Facebook Group: HUD and Section 8 for People with Disabilities (and family)

🌷 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌷 Page Updated: 8/1/19

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4 thoughts on “How to Show That Your Disability Accommodation is Disability-Related”

  1. I am a disabled person and I am about to be homeless. I’ve got less than a week before my relative kicks me out. There is no openings on the waiting list for Section 8. However there are apartments available that take section 8, but I can’t get a voucher because there are no wait lists open. Can I ask for accommodation to get me an emergency voucher?

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    1. So sorry you are in this position. Emergency vouchers are nearly impossible. You might try contacting all the homeless agencies and shelters in your state until you find one that helps people transition into permanent housing. Some offer a lot more help and services than others.

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  2. I am having a hard time getting a live in side because I there is a question on why not rotating shift worker my doctor did not know how to answer.i am disabled and want my daughter however so far they are saying no because of that question any help on that

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    1. It would be good if you can talk to your doctor about any reason you need one live in person and not rotating shift workers, as well as any reasons you need continuity of one person or someone there overnight.

      Your doctor does not have to disclose your disability needs, if the doctor feels rotating shift workers are not suitable for your care, he just needs to write that it’s medically necessary for you to have one live in person and not rotating shift workers in order meet your needs. Hope this helps.

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