Illinois REALTORS® was a sponsor for a seminar held by the Illinois Department of Human Rights at the John Marshall School of Law in Chicago to debut a new guide for real estate practitioners to help them better meet the needs of the disabled. From left are IDHR Deputy Director Alex Bautista; Acting Director Janice Glenn, and Illinois REALTORS® President Matt Difanis.

Illinois REALTORS® President Matt Difanis speaks at a seminar Friday in Chicago. 

Illinois REALTORS® was a sponsor of an event announcing the launch of a new handbook devoted to helping property owners and those who work with them better understand how accommodate those with disabilities.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights held the housing seminar in Chicago on Friday at the John Marshall School of Law. The event was in conjunction of the 50th anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act.

The state agency released a print edition to participants of the Guidebook for Housing Professionals on Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications, which “will help eliminate housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity and achieve diverse, inclusive communities,” according to IDHR Acting Director Janice Glenn.

The guide will be made more broadly available to the public soon.

Illinois REALTORS® President Matt Difanis delivered opening remarks at the event, where he noted the association representing 47,000 real estate professionals has a track record of working to make sure its members understand the need to best serve those with disabilities.

“At Illinois REALTORS®, we provide members with a steady stream of guidance on how to best meet the housing needs of those with disabilities, whether through class instruction, our print and online resources or through the advice of the association’s legal department,” Difanis said.

The state association dedicated a monument commemorating the Fair Housing Act at its Springfield headquarters on April 9.

“Sure, following Fair Housing rules is good for business,” Difanis said. “But more important — and I can’t stress this enough – housing opportunity is good for communities and the people who live in them throughout Illinois.”

Other comments from the session:

“Many violations to the law come from a lack of understanding or awareness of their obligations and how to respond to requests for reasonable accommodations and modifications,” said Lon Meltesen, Fair Housing Division manager for IDHR.

Mary Rosenberg, a staff attorney for Access Housing said: “Housing providers need to understand the limits of requesting information from prospective tenants.” She noted that obtaining specific details such as a clinical diagnosis or medical records is inappropriate and would be considered a violation.

Sharon Gorrell, director of housing, global business and diversity for Illinois REALTORS® contributed to this report.