A new study by the Equal Rights Center, based in Washington, D.C., found widespread discrimination against the deaf in the rental housing market. The report, available here, found that 45% of deaf or hard of hearing individuals who used telecommunications relay service (TRS) to contact a potential landlord or other housing provider experienced discriminatory treatment while seeking rental housing in the greater Washington, D.C. area.
The types of discrimination uncovered included housing providers misrepresenting the availability of housing, quoting higher rents, stating different rental requirements, as well as hanging up on a deaf individual and then refusing to answer subsequently placed calls using TRS.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) both prohibit discrimination based on disability, as do many state and local anti-discrimination laws. As the report notes, “Federal courts have held that housing providers violate the FHA by refusing to accept TRS calls from people with disabilities when the housing provider accepts standard telephone calls.”