WASHINGTON, DC – September 29, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging the owner and landlord of an apartment building in Reno, Nevada, with violating the Fair Housing Act for evicting two tenants after a friend with a disability visited the tenants with his emotional support dog.
HUD brings the charge on behalf of the tenants, alleging that the DeAngeli Family Trust and Peter DeAngeli, the respective owner and landlord of the property, engaged in unlawful discrimination by refusing to make a reasonable accommodation to the building’s “no pets policy” for a person with a disability. HUD also alleges the housing providers retaliated against the tenants by evicting them when they protested the housing providers’ refusal to grant the accommodation.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a housing provider to refuse a reasonable accommodation in its rules, policies, practices, or services when needed to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling. It is also against the law to threaten or intimidate residents, including evicting them, for exercising their fair housing rights.
“The Fair Housing Act protects individuals from discrimination because of their disabilities or those of their guests,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will enforce the law whenever housing providers deprive people of their equal opportunity to enjoy their housing, including the right to be free from harassment based on their or their guests’ disability or other status under the Fair Housing Act.”
According to HUD’s charge, two tenants residing at the apartments in Reno, NV, were visited by a friend accompanied by his medically authorized emotional support dog. After seeing a dog in the building, the landlord of the property told one of the tenants that the building’s “no-pets” policy barred their visitors from bringing animals into the unit. The tenant explained that her visitor’s dog is an emotional support animal and said she could provide documentation that the animal was necessary because of a disability. Nonetheless, one day after the tenants’ friend and his support animal visited again, DeAngeli served the tenants with an eviction notice, and later posted a note near their unit stating, “If harassed or bothered by tenants of these apartments call 911 immediately.”
HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award to aggrieved persons the damages caused to them by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines in order to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages to aggrieved persons.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate more than 10,000 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 (voice), (800) 927-9275 (TTY).
HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.
HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the
need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build
inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business.
More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and
http://espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDnews, on facebook at
www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s News Listserv.