Frequently Asked Questions

I am a person with a disability and recently needed to use a wheelchair to move around. There are three stairs in front of my apartment so I need a ramp to get up the stairs. What are my rights?

Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, a disabled tenant can request a reasonable modification, which is a change in the physical structure of a building. If the modification is required to give the disabled tenant full use and enjoyment of the unit, then a landlord must grant the request. Tenants should make their requests in writing and make sure to keep a copy for their records.

My wife and I are looking for a new place to live and we saw a beautiful apartment on the second floor of a two-story apartment building. When I mentioned it was for my wife and four year old son, the landlord told me she would not rent apartments above the first floor to people with small children. She was very nice and said she would put me in the waiting list for a first floor unit. Is this legal?

No. A property owner cannot deny someone the opportunity to rent a unit just because they have children.

I own a 100-unit apartment complex and recently found out that my on-site manager has been harassing the female tenants. Am I legally liable for this?

Yes. As the owner of the building, you are legally responsible for the actions of your management personnel, maintenance staff, and any other agents you employ. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, sexual harassment of tenants is illegal.

I have a “No Pets” policy at all the apartment buildings I own. I recently had a visually impaired tenant who needed a seeing eye dog apply for a unit. I turned her away because we do not allow pets. Was this legal?

No. If a disabled tenant requires the use of a service animal than you must grant an exemption to the “No Pet” policy. The tenant’s use and enjoyment of her home would clearly be adversely affected if she wasn’t allowed to have her seeing-eye dog. However, this does not mean that your “No Pet” policy must be suspended for your non-disabled tenants.

I am a single mom with a 12 year old son looking for an apartment and came across an advertisement that read “A great building for single professionals.” Was this legal?

It is illegal to advertise in a manner that states or suggests a preference. The advertisement you saw discourages families with children from applying to rent the vacant unit. It may also discourage married couples from applying for the vacant unit.

I recently rented a unit to someone who had some problems with his credit report. I had a second applicant with better credit, but I really liked the first applicant because we had a great conversation about sports. Did I make the right decision?

As a landlord, it is extremely important that you apply your rental policies and standards in an equal manner. If you have a policy of renting to the applicant with the best credit, then you should follow this policy at all times. Avoid making exceptions to the rule. It could come back to haunt you if the exception you make favors one group over another.

Is it legal for a housing provider to increase the security deposit because there are children under 18 in the household?

No. A landlord cannot require a higher security deposit or damage deposit from people who have minor children than from people without minor children. Under the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, it is unlawful to set deposits based on the stereotype that children as a class cause more damage to property than others.

One of my tenants made a request for a pet and gave me a note from her doctor. The doctor prescribed a companion dog for the tenant because she has a mental disability. I allow pets at my building as long as the tenant pays a $250 security deposit. Is my policy legal?

No. A housing provider may not charge a security deposit for a companion dog prescribed for a person with a disability.

I called about an available apartment and after chatting with the leasing agent for a few minutes was told that the apartment was not available. I had a bad feeling about it so I asked a co-worker of mine to call. She was told that the apartment was available and offered an appointment to view the apartment. I am Black and my co-worker is White. Do you think this made a difference?

It is illegal for a housing provider to take race into consideration when selecting a tenant. The North Texas Fair Housing Center is here to help and can investigate this type of incident. The first step is to contact us to make a report.