HUD Charges Landlord With Discrimination Over Assistance Animal

HUD has charged a landlord with disability discrimination over failing to lease a rental to a woman with a dog as an assistance animal

HUD (The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) has charged a landlord and Realtor with disability discrimination over failing to lease a rental to a woman with a dog as an assistance animal, according to a release.

HUD has charged Serrot Management LLC, the owner of a dwelling in Maplewood, New Jersey, and its realtor with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow a prospective tenant with a disability to live with her assistance animal. Read the Charge. The rental had a no-pet policy. Assistance animals are not pets.

HUD’s charge alleges that the landlord approved the potential tenant’s application to rent an apartment in Maplewood, New Jersey. However, they imposed discriminatory terms and conditions on the complainant’s tenancy and eventually rescinded their approval after they learned she required an assistance animal.

“Although the complainant (tenant) offered medical support documentation for her assistance animal, the landlord continued to impose onerous conditions, denied her reasonable accommodation request, and ultimately denied her housing. The complainant was forced to find another place to live with her family under a tight time deadline,” the complaint says.

Some of the discriminatory language placed in the lease for the tenant with the assistance animal, a dog, stated that:

“If the landlord has any signs of issues with the dog barking, or making too much noise the rent will increase by $100 w/ a 30-day notice. The landlord has the right to terminate the lease with a 60-day notice if the dog becomes an issue for any reason,” the complaint says.

The Fair Housing Act (“Act”) prohibits discrimination based on disability. Such discrimination includes refusing to rent based on a person’s disability, failing to grant reasonable accommodations, or subjecting tenants to discriminatory terms and conditions.

“Persons with disabilities must not be subjected to burdensome constraints while trying to secure housing. The rights of persons with disabilities have been protected under the Fair Housing Act for more than 30 years, yet they continue to face discrimination,” Demetria L. McCain, HUD Principal Assistant Deputy Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in the release. “HUD is committed to vigorously enforcing the Act to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities.”

“The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations that are necessary for an individual with disabilities to have equal enjoyment of housing,” HUD’s General Counsel, Damon Smith, said in the release, “In some cases, that means a housing provider must permit the use of an assistance animal without imposing onerous conditions.”

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