WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging landlords in South Florida with discrimination against tenants with disabilities. Meanwhile, HUD is announcing separate agreements with landlords in Nevada and Massachusetts resolving similar charges.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate based on disability in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, including refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services. In addition, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
“Discrimination against people with disabilities continues to be the most common type of housing discrimination complaint we receive each year,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “It’s unacceptable and the cases we’re announcing today reflect HUD’s commitment to making sure housing opportunities are available to every American, including those with disabilities.”
Last year alone, HUD and its partners received more than 4,500 disability-related complaints, accounting for nearly 55 percent of all fair housing complaints that were filed.
HUD charged the owner of Hillcrest East Building No. 22, a multifamily development in Hollywood, Florida; the property’s management company, Rhodes Management; and a previous president of the homeowners’ association with housing discrimination for failing to make reasonable accommodations, publishing discriminatory notices and statements, and attempting to intimidate and retaliate against two family members who filed a housing discrimination complaint. One individual lives at the subject property, and the other person, who has a disability, was allegedly prevented from visiting her cousin at the subject property because she requires the use of an emotional support animal. HUD’s charge also alleges that the owners and managers discriminated against persons with disabilities by requiring personal and unnecessary medical information in order to grant reasonable accommodations, and by prohibiting emotional support animals and their owners from having access to the development. Read the charge.
The charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainants to compensate them for the discrimination and may assess a civil penalty.
HUD has entered into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with Advanced Realty Management,Advanced Property Management, Howland One Three, and One Three Howland Street, of Quincy, Massachusetts, after HUD found that the property management companies discriminated against a resident with disabilities by denying her reasonable accommodation request to transfer to an accessible unit. Under the agreement, the companies will pay $12,614 to the resident, draft a reasonable accommodation policy that must be approved by HUD, train staff on the new reasonable accommodation policy within 30 days of its approval, and hire a contractor to assess and improve unit accessibility. Read the Voluntary Compliance Agreement.
HUD reached a Conciliation/Voluntary Compliance Agreement with the Nevada Rural Housing Authority after a Carson City, Nevada woman with disabilities alleged that the housing authority unlawfully terminated her benefits because she is disabled. The resident had alleged that her tenancy was wrongly terminated because of her disability. Under the agreement, the housing authority will pay the woman $11,000; reinstate her lease and allow her to continue living at the property; grant her reasonable accommodation request to have a staff person designated to act as her contact with the housing authority; and provide fair housing training for its staff. Read the Voluntary Compliance Agreement.
Any person who believes she or he has experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.
HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.
More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet
at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov.