Ohio Developer and Architect to Pay $160K to Settle Accessibility Complaints

A real estate developer and an architect in Ohio recently agreed to pay $160,000 to settle allegations that they violated the Fair Housing Act by designing and constructing two neighboring condominium complexes with a variety of features that made them inaccessible to persons with disabilities, according to a recent announcement by the Justice Department.

Under the settlement, they agreed to pay $100,000 to current condo owners who choose to make accessibility modifications to their units. These modifications include eliminating steps and excessive slopes in the walkways to the front entrances of their units; widening doorways; removing or lowering thresholds; installing removable cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms to increase maneuvering space for wheelchair use and relocating toilets, showers, and sinks to provide access to a wheelchair user. The developer and architect also agreed to pay $10,000 each to the two fair housing organizations, which filed the original HUD complaints, along with a $40,000 civil penalty.

“This settlement makes clear that those who design and build multifamily housing must comply with the accessibility provisions of the Fair Housing Act,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “We will continue to protect the rights of people with disabilities to live in their communities without facing barriers like inaccessible housing.”

“One out of five persons in America lives with some type of physical disability, making it more important than ever that architects and builders comply with the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements,” added Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today’s settlement reaffirms HUD and the Justice Department’s commitment to ensuring that housing providers meet that obligation.”