HUD Charges Landlord with Discrimination Over Assistance Animal

HUD has charged a landlord with discrimination over refusing a reasonable accommodation for a tenant with an assistance animal

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is charging Lakeview Avenue LLC in Rensselaer, New York, and its employees with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing a tenant’s request for a disability-related reasonable accommodation to keep an assistance animal and subjecting the tenant to retaliation for requesting a reasonable accommodation, according to a release.

HUD’s charge alleges that the multifamily housing providers refused a tenant’s request to allow her disabled child to have an assistance animal, a dog, in her unit.

After the tenant requested a reasonable accommodation, the housing providers responded saying, “I recognize you have a right to the dog, but I also recognize my right as your landlord to refuse having one in my building. I’m so sorry but I can’t permit a dog on the property and I can’t make an exception for one resident. I understand your need to get one, but if you are set in stone about it, you may have to look for a new place. Sincerest apologies,” according to the HUD charge.

“The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations when necessary for an individual with disabilities to have equal enjoyment of housing,” said Damon Smith, HUD’s general counsel, in the release.  “That includes waiving a ‘no pets’ policy to permit a needed assistance animal.”

Although the tenant provided medical documentation supporting the minor’s need for an assistance animal, the housing provider continued to deny the reasonable accommodation and to impose onerous and discriminatory conditions.

Shortly after her latest request for a reasonable accommodation, the tenant received a notice to vacate her unit and had to move to another, more expensive, apartment within her daughter’s school district.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination and retaliation based on disability, which includes failing to grant reasonable accommodations and interfering with tenants’ exercise of rights protected by the act.

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