WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today it is charging a Manhattan property owner with violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against a resident with disabilities who required the use of an assistance animal. Read HUD’s charge.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities, or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices for persons with disabilities. This includes waiving “no pet” policies for assistance or service animals.
“Anytime a housing provider refuses a person with disabilities a necessary accommodation, it is effectively denying him or her the opportunity to use and enjoy his or her home,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “In a nation where one out of every five people has a disability, this type of discrimination is unacceptable, and HUD will continue to address such discrimination when it occurs.”
The charge was filed on behalf of a man with a disability who sought a reasonable accommodation from 111 East 88th Partners, a business partnership that owns his Manhattan apartment. Specifically, HUD alleges that the partnership failed to grant his request to keep an emotional support animal, citing a prohibition against pets in his lease.
HUD claims that in response to the man’s request for the reasonable accommodation, the partnership requested extensive and intrusive medical records and data. The partnership also reserved the right to subject the man to a medical examination and to question him, his physician, and his therapist under oath.
HUD’s charge alleges that the request for such extensive medical information, after the resident had already provided medical documentation attesting to his disabilities and need for the support animal, interfered with his housing rights, a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
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 his 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.
Disability is the most common basis of complaint filed with HUD and its partner agencies. Last year alone, HUD considered more than 4,500 disability-related complaints or nearly 55 percent of all fair housing complaints.
People who believe they have 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.