Woman with disabilities denied service animal
CHICAGO, IL – September 26, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has chargedthe owner of a Grand Rapids, MN, apartment complex with violating the Fair Housing Act by denying arequest from a disabled woman to reside in her apartment witha medically-prescribed support animal. The owner operates the property as Jay’s Hilltop Rentals.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a housing provider to refuse to make 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.
“HUD is committed to making sure housing providers meet their obligation to grant people with disabilities the reasonable accommodations they need,” said HUD’s Midwest Regional Administrator Antonio R. Riley.
According to HUD’s charge, the tenant obtained a letter froma medical professional treating her explaining that she was disabled within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act and neededa support animal to alleviate symptoms associated with her disabilities. HUD’s charge further alleges that when the tenant tried to present the letter to the property owner, he refused to read it, threw the note on the floor, and yelled at the tenant to “get rid” of the animal or he would “get rid” of the tenant. Theowner later offered to let the tenant keep her support animal if she tripled her security deposit.
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 for the damages caused her 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 approximately 10,000 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 (voice) or 1-800-927-9275 (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.
Laura J. Feldman