Parking policy fails to accommodate tenants with disabilities
WASHINGTON, DC – February 17, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced that it is charging the owner and management company of an apartment complex in the Town of Oyster Bay in Long Island, New York with violating the Fair Housing Act for allegedly denying an accessible parking space to a resident with disabilities. Additionally, HUD’s charge alleges that 4 Anchorage Lane Owners, Inc. and Total Community Management Corp. refused to modify its parking policy to accommodate the resident’s request.
The Fair Housing Act requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations in their rules, policies, practices, or services when needed to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling.
“A parking space that provides easier access to and from their residence can mean all the difference to a person with disabilities’ participation in daily life,” stated John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The law may require a landlord to assign an accessible parking space if it is necessary to afford that person the same privileges of housing that others enjoy. Since 1988, the Fair Housing Act is our authority and obligation to ensure reasonable accommodations. HUD will vigorously enforce the law to protect the housing rights of tenants living with disabilities.”
According to HUD’s charge, the owner and manager of the apartment complex repeatedly denied a disabled tenant’s requests for a reasonable accommodation in the form of an assigned accessible parking space. The resident suffers from neuropathy, a neurological disease that makes it impossible for him to walk long distances and maintain balance. Unable to reserve one of the two designated handicap parking spaces closest to the entrance, the tenant was forced to compete for an accessible space with other residents or park further away from his apartment. The owner and manager refused to accommodate his request, stating management was in full compliance with local codes for providing accessible parking for all residents.
The HUD 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 aggrieved persons for the damages caused 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 espanol.hud.gov.