Whether you are renting or buying a home, you have the right to choose where you live. It is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to you or treat you differently because of your
- race, religion, national origin, or color;
- family (if you have children or are married or single;
- sexual orientation or gender identity; or
It is also illegal to treat you differently because you get Section 8 or other assistance to help you pay the rent. This illegal treatment is discrimination.
A landlord can refuse to rent to you if you
- have bad credit,
- were evicted from another apartment, or
- have a criminal record.
How do I know if I am a victim of discrimination?
Discrimination happens in many ways. It is usually hidden, but you may feel that you’re being treated differently. Here are some examples of housing discrimination:
Race, color, or national origin:
If a landlord, rental agent, or realtor only shows you apartments or homes in areas where most people look like you.
If a sign says “For Rent,” but the landlord says it is already rented.
Renters with children:
If you have children, are pregnant or adopting, or will have custody of a child and the landlord says you must pay higher rent, a security deposit, or extra deposit than tenants without children, or that you can only live on a certain floor of the building.
Public assistance, child support, or spousal support:
If a landlord
- says they don’t take Section 8 renters,
- says they want cash instead of the state security deposit guarantee, or
- makes you fill out more paperwork than other renters.
If you or a family member have (or seem to have) a physical or mental disability and the landlord says
- you can’t live there because there is no one to take care of you;
- they would like to rent to you, but their insurance will go up;
- they don’t rent to alcoholics or drug addicts, even if they’re in recovery programs; or
- they need your medical records.
People with Disabilities Have Extra Rights
You have the right to make changes to the apartment whenever you need them. For example, you may need ramps or bathroom grab bars.
The landlord has the right to ask you to prove that you need the changes, but you do not have to provide any medical records or information about your disability. The only information you have to give is to say
- you have a disability, and
- your doctor thinks you need those changes to be able to live in the apartment.
You may have to agree to
- remove the change before you move out, and
- pay for the change yourself.
Landlords must be flexible with the rules so you can use your apartment just like other tenants. For example, a landlord must allow you to have a service animal even if pets are not allowed. But the landlord does not have to agree to the change if it would be very expensive or unreasonable.
Visit the Connecticut Fair Housing Center website to get help writing a letter to your landlord asking for a reasonable accommodation for your disability.
What should I do if I think I was discriminated against?
Keep a record of all phone calls and meetings and save all your papers or documents related to the unfair housing treatment.
Keep a record of all phone calls and meetings.
- the dates, times, meeting places, and people involved (names and job titles if you know them);
- what happened, what was said, and who said it;
- the reason you were turned down;
- the address of the apartment/house and the type of building; and
- the names and addresses of any witnesses.
Save all your papers or documents related to the unfair housing treatment, such as
- letters, e-mails, and voicemails;
- applications and receipts;
- business cards; and
- lease agreements.