Fair Housing and ADA Protections

Important facts about the Fair Housing Act as it applies to your role as a housing provider:

    • The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits housing discrimination based on race or color, religion, sex, family status, national origin, or disability. People who smoke are not a protected class according to the federal Fair Housing Act or any state or federal laws.
    • The FHA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, including those with severe breathing problems, such as asthma, allergies, COPD, emphysema or lung cancer.
    • The FHA is important because it allows people with breathing disabilities to seek reasonable accommodations from landlords and housing providers in regards to the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke.

Americans with Disabilities Act. Non-smoking tenants who are afflicted with breathing disorders may use the Americans with Disabilities Act, Vermont Fair Housing Law or the federal Fair Housing Act to bring legal action against landlords for not making reasonable accommodations to protect tenants from secondhand smoke exposure.

Common Law Theories. There are ways tenants may bring legal action under what is called "common law" against a landlord or tenants who smoke. These theories include: breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment, negligence, nuisance, breach of warranty of habitability, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, trespass, and constructive eviction.

Additional Resources

• An analysis of how the federal FHA applies to situations involving secondhand smoke in apartments.

• Information about the Vermont Fair Housing Law

• Review Vermont’s “Smoking in Public Places” Law

• Vermont law prohibits smoking in private homes and vehicles whenever foster children are present. 

Please see Licensing Regulations for Foster Care, Section 403 for further details.