WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today it is charging an Oswego, New York, property owner and management company with housing discrimination following allegations that they discriminated against people with disabilities who required the use of assistance animals. 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. This includes waiving no pet policies for assistance or service animals.
“Persons who require assistance animals have as much right to housing as anyone else and shouldn’t have their requests for such accommodations unlawfully denied,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to take appropriate enforcement action whenever the rights of persons with disabilities are violated.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when a woman with a mental disability filed a complaint alleging that Hillside Park Real Estate, which owns the apartment complex where she sought to rent, and its property manager, discriminated against her because of her disability. Specifically, HUD’s charge alleges that they denied the woman’s request to keep an emotional support animal in the apartment she had contracted to rent and then cancelled her lease, even though she allegedly provided a doctor’s statement attesting to her need for the accommodation.
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 her 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.
In FY 2015, disability was the most common basis of complaints filed with HUD and its partner agencies, being cited as a basis for 4,548 complaints, or nearly 55 percent of the overall total.
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.