Fair Housing Month Ends on a Sour Note
This campaign recognizes something we’ve discussed in articles previously--that in many cases the only people with the power to stop future violations of the Fair Housing Act are those who were victims of discrimination. In the last few days of April, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced yet another case of Fair Housing Act violations being pursued by HUD.
HUD announced charges being brought against the owner of an Alabama apartment complex for “refusing to rent a unit to a prospective tenant with disabilities who uses an assistance animal.”
Fair Housing Act laws make it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities at any stage of the housing process. That includes landlords “refusing to make reasonable accommodations” when those reasonable accommodations are needed for equal access and use of the home.
The HUD announcement includes a reminder that, “Housing providers may not prohibit people with disabilities from having assistance animals that perform work or tasks, or that provide disability-related emotional support.”
That requires housing providers with “no-pets” policies to waive those rules for any prospective renter or resident who requires an assistance animal because of a disability.
“Refusing to permit individuals who rely on assistance animals to live with their animals not only prevents them from obtaining housing they desperately need, it is also against the law,” said Jeanine Worden, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, who was quoted in the press release.
She adds, “HUD remains committed to ensuring that housing providers recognize and meet their obligation to comply with the Fair Housing Act, including its reasonable accommodation requirements.”
In this particular case, the Fair Housing Act violations only came to the attention of HUD because the person using an assistance animal filed a complaint with HUD after she was denied an apartment because of the owner’s pet policy.
The HUD press release about the incident adds that when the victim asked about the unit, “the owner allegedly asked if she had a pet, and when the woman stated she had an assistance animal, the owner told her that she did not allow pets or animals and terminated the call.” This case will be heard by an administrative law judge unless any party to the case chooses to have it heard in federal court.
Have you been the victim of housing discrimination? File a complaint with the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (Relay).
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