Direct Threat Under The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on a person's race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability. One of the key provisions of the FHA is the prohibition against making a "direct threat" to the health or safety of others.
Under the FHA, a direct threat is defined as a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation. The determination of whether a direct threat exists must be based on an individualized assessment of the individual's current behavior and medical history, as well as the nature, duration, and severity of the risk.
The determination of whether a direct threat exists must be based on objective evidence and not on stereotypes or assumptions about the individual's disability. For example, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to a person with a mental illness based on the assumption that they pose a direct threat to the safety of other tenants.
If a direct threat is found to exist, the landlord or housing provider must show that there is no less discriminatory alternative to excluding the individual from the housing or taking other action to mitigate the risk. This might include reasonable modifications to the housing or common areas, or the provision of support services to enable the individual to live safely in the housing.
It is important to note that the direct threat provision of the FHA does not give landlords or housing providers carte blanche to exclude individuals with disabilities from housing. Rather, it requires a careful, individualized assessment of the risk posed by the individual's disability and a consideration of reasonable accommodations that might enable the individual to live safely in the housing.
In conclusion, the direct threat provision of the Fair Housing Act is an important protection for the health and safety of tenants, but it must be applied in a manner that is consistent with the individualized assessment and reasonable accommodation requirements of the law. Housing providers should work with tenants and disability advocates to find ways to enable individuals with disabilities to live safely and comfortably in their housing, while also protecting the health and safety of other tenants.