Article by Kenneth Krems for New England Affordable Housing Management Association publication
You have a few vacancies, so it is time to see who is at the top of your waiting list. The first applicant is a man with some history of drug addiction. You are uneasy about accepting him as a tenant. You want to protect your site from drug users, but you vaguely remember that drug addicts have some protection under the law. What should you do?
Under the American with Disabilities Act and other statutes, it is illegal to refuse to rent to an applicant based upon the handicapped status of the applicant. In general, substance abusers are protected from discrimination by the statues, so you cannot refuse to rent an apartment to someone simply because he has a history of using drugs.
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Article by Kenneth Krems for Massachusetts Bar Association Property Law, Section News
The duties of landlords and the rights of tenants in handicapped discrimination law are defined by a complex mixture of state and federal law. Each of the applicable laws, however, is based upon the premise of equal opportunity in housing for the disabled. Equal opportunity is achieved by offering qualified disabled persons reasonable accommodations to account for their disability. Massachusetts courts have been applying the reasonable accommodation standard in decisions, which are beginning to define the contours of the law with regard to handicapped discrimination in housing.
In one case, a landlord brought a summary process complaint in Boston Housing Court against a tenant alleging that the tenant was disturbing the quiet enjoyment of the other tenants by playing loud music and carousing during the night. The defendant answered that the landlord had violated the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by failing to offer a reasonable accommodation. The Rehabilitation Act was operative because the landlord was the recipient of federal funds.
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