Fair Housing Is Good Medicine: Applying the Fair Housing Act's No-Inquiry Regulation When Housing and Health Care Are Provided Together


The Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in the housing or rental markets. The FHA’s no-inquiry regulation prohibits a landlord from inquiring into an applicant’s health condition.

Although the FHA routinely has been applied to long-term care facilities – usually to protect a group home or similar facility from unfair zoning practices – the no-inquiry regulation has not been utilized to challenge the admissions practices of assisted living facilities, nursing facilities, and other long-term care facilities. Indeed, at first glance, a no-inquiry rule seems a poor fit for a facility that provides health care along with housing.

This article determines that the no-inquiry regulation can be used to limit the health care information demanded of applicants by long-term care facilities. An explicit exception to the no-inquiry regulation allows inquiry to the extent necessary to determine whether an applicant is entitled to priority in admission. Because long-term care facilities are designed for use by individuals with disabilities, such individuals should be considered to have priority. The facility should be entitled to inquire into an applicant’s health condition only to the extent necessary to determine whether he or she has care needs that fit within the level of care authorized under the facility’s license.


Elder Law | Health Law and Policy | Housing Law

Date of this Version

March 2006