An owner and manager of a Salt Lake City apartment complex have been charged with discrimination by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development over failing to rent to a tenant who had an emotional support animal.
The potential tenant had inquired about renting an apartment was told the apartments had a strict “no pets” policy because some tenants are atlergic to dogs and other longtime residents simply do not want animals at the property.
The potential tenant told management “she had paperwork from her doctor prescribing the animal as an emotional support animal, and that the animal was a small dog of about ten pounds.,” according to the complaint. The tenant had a “disability-related need for an assistance animal and the requested accommodation was necessary to allow her the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling” at the apartment the complaint states.
The HUD charge of discrimination states, “Amy Sloan and BJJ Enterprises, LLC violated the (Fair Housing) Act based on disability by refusing to provide services to persons with disabilities, refusing to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities, and by making housing unavailable to persons with disabilities.”
The apartments are the Pine Cove Apartments, is a 48-unit multifamily apartment building located at 1243 E. Alameda Avenue, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Discrimination involves no-pet policy
“The rental agreement does not contain exceptions to the “no-pet” policy for assistance animals and does not outline any procedures for requesting a reasonable accommodation to the no-pet policy for individuals with disabilities,” according to the complaint.
“For nearly three decades, people with disabilities have had a right to request the reasonable accommodations they need to fully enjoy their homes, but that right is still being denied,” Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity said in a release. “HUD will continue to take actions that ensure that property owners and managers understand their rights and responsibilities under the law and take steps to comply with those obligations.”
“The case came to HUD’s attention when the Disability Law Center filed a fair housing complaint with HUD on behalf of a female resident with disabilities at Pine Cove Apartments, in Salt Lake City, who alleged that the owner, BJJ Enterprises, and the manager of the 48-unit complex had denied her request to keep an assistance animal,” the HUD release states. “The Disability Law Center conducted fair housing tests, which revealed evidence that Pine Cove managers discriminated against people with disabilities. According to HUD’s Charge, Pine Cove strictly adheres to its “no-pets” policy, even when medical documentation attesting to the need for a reasonable accommodation is presented.”
HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainants for their 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.