LA Landlords Settle Disability Discrimination Claims Involving Assistance Animals
HUD recently announced that it has approved a settlement with housing providers in the greater Los Angeles area, resolving allegations that they refused to allow residents with disabilities to keep assistance animals.
Federal fair housing law prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities, or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices for persons with disabilities when the accommodations may be necessary to afford them an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. This includes not allowing persons with disabilities to have assistance animals that perform work or tasks.
The case came to HUD’s attention when the Inland Fair Housing & Mediation Board (IFHMB), a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agency, filed a complaint after it conducted tests of six properties owned or managed by the housing providers, which allegedly indicated that they denied persons with disabilities the right to keep assistance animals. IFHMB also alleged that employees of the providers failed to give residents with disabilities proper information regarding service animals. The providers denied the allegations but agreed to settle the complaint.
Under the terms of the agreement, the housing providers agreed to pay $15,000 to IFHMB. They will also arrange for staff who interact with current and potential residents to attend fair housing training; modify their policies to include information on reasonable accommodations, modifications, and service animals; and ensure that staff who interact with current or potential tenants will have the ability to communicate in English and other languages.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to fully enjoy the place they call home, including persons with disabilities,” Anna María Farías, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “HUD is pleased that the housing providers who are part of today’s action have agreed to take steps to comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act.”