WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 20, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged Kent State University, in Kent, OH, and four of its employees with housing discrimination for refusing to allow a student with disabilities to keep an emotional support animal in her campus apartment.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when a person with adisability requires such an accommodation, including refusing to grant waivers to “no-pet” policies for persons who use assistance or support animals.
“Many people with disabilities rely on therapy animals to enhance their quality of life,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act protects their right to a service animal and HUD is committed to taking action whenever the nation’s fair housing laws are violated.”
HUD’s charge stems from complaints that were filed by a Kent State University student and her husband and Fair Housing Advocates Association (FHAA), Inc., a non-profit advocacy organization based in Akron, OH. The student and her husband lived in university-owned and operated housing that is set aside for upperclassmen and their families. A university psychologist treating the student documented her disabilities and wrote a letter stating that the best way for the student to cope with her disabilities was having a support animal. The student subsequently obtained a dog and submitted a reasonable accommodation request to the university seeking a waiver to the apartment complex’s “no pets” rule.
In her complaint, the student alleged that the university offered her academic accommodations, which she did not need, but denied her request to keep her support animal. As a result of the denial, the student and her husband were forced to move to an apartment the university did not own. Shortly after the move, the student and her husband contacted FHAA.
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 damages to the woman and her husband for the harm caused them by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages.
Click here to read HUD’s notice regarding service or companion animals.
Persons who believe they have been denied a reasonable accommodation request 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 devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
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 @HUDGov, on facebook at
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