Is It a Disability? Part 3 - Addiction - The Fair Housing Institute, Inc.

Is It a Disability? Part 3 – Addiction

In the ever-evolving landscape of fair housing laws and regulations, one topic that has garnered significant attention is the status of drug addiction as a disability. In part three of our series, Is It a Disability, we explore the implications of such a classification and the fair housing responsibilities every housing provider needs to be aware of.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Is It a Disability? Part 3 - Addiction

Is addiction to drugs (whether illicit or prescription) considered a disability, which would require making a reasonable accommodation?

Addiction to drugs, either prescription or illicit, can be considered a disability under certain circumstances. For example, for drug addiction to be considered a disability, the person involved would be required not to be currently using drugs and also seeking help through some rehabilitation program. If this is the case, a housing provider would be expected to consider a reasonable accommodation if one is requested.

Do you have to make an exception on the rent due date as a reasonable accommodation?

HUD has instructed that rent due dates can be subject to a reasonable accommodation request for certain people with disabilities. However, this would be contingent on a case-by-case basis, and if a housing provider is unsure, it is always a good best practice to seek counsel from a fair housing attorney.

We know from our last episode that tobacco addiction is not considered a disability. Would any other addictions, like gambling, fall under that category as well, or are all other addictions considered disabilities?

Not all addictions are considered a disability. As we have seen from other parts of this series and this article, alcoholism and drug addiction can only be considered a disability under certain circumstances. But besides that nothing else has been found to be a disability.

Can a landlord terminate a tenant’s lease after discovering that they use illegal drugs? 

Absolutely! Especially if this is part of the lease terms. In this situation, a housing provider could either send a violation notice or a termination notice to the resident. The only caveat is if the use of illegal drugs was in the past and the individual is currently seeking treatment.

The conversation surrounding drug addiction and its relation to fair housing rights is both complex and multi-faceted. As legal frameworks adapt to the ever-changing understandings of addiction and health, the heart of the matter lies in striking a balance between compassion, understanding, and practicality. Regardless of where future rulings may stand, it is essential that training and education continue to ensure fair housing compliance.

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