WASHINGTON, D.C. — (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging a group of landlords in the Pittsburgh area with discriminating against prospective residents who have disabilities. HUD claims the owners and property managers of Beechwood Gardens in Pittsburgh and Southpointe Towers in West Mifflin denied housing to testers posing as prospective renters by refusing to grant them reasonable accommodations. Read HUD’s charge.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the terms and conditions of housing because of disability. This includes refusing to permit persons with disabilities to have needed assistance animals or other reasonable accommodations.
“Fair housing laws are clear—a disability should never prevent you from living in a safe, accessible home,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This charge reflects HUD’s commitment to ensuring that housing providers everywhere meet their fair housing obligations and offer equal access to every person looking to rent or buy a home.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when the Fair Housing Partnership of Pittsburgh, Inc., filed a complaint alleging that A.Z. Zytnick, LLC, S & J Ventures, LP and the Allan Zytnick Trust Fund discriminated against prospective renters with disabilities. The parties own and/or manage the 144-unit Beechwood Gardens apartments in Pittsburgh and the 157-unit Southpointe Towers apartments in West Mifflin.
HUD’s charge alleges that the owners and managers at Southpointe Towers sent residents a notice stating that there would “no longer be any assigned [parking] spaces, no exceptions, even for people with disabilities.” The Fair Housing Partnership of Pittsburgh conducted a series of tests using testers posing as rental applicants who required designated parking spaces due to mobility disabilities. HUD alleges that respondents denied these testers requests for assigned parking at both Southpointe and Beechwood Gardens.
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 or she may award damages to the complainant for its loss as a result of 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 civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest. If the case is heard in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages to the complainant.
Any person who believes he or she 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, whichcan 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.