SF Real Estate Firms Settle Housing Discrimination Complaint

HUD recently approved a settlement with two San-Francisco real estate companies accused of denying a family’s disability-related request to move to a non-smoking unit.

Federal fair housing law prohibits communities from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities, or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices for persons with disabilities.

The case came to HUD's attention when the family filed a complaint against the community’s owner and its property manager, which manages their building through HUD's Rental Assistance Demonstration Program, for allegedly denying their request to move to a unit in a non-smoking building as a reasonable accommodation. Allegedly, the family's infant has a disability that affects his breathing. Instead of transferring them to a smoke-free building, the family said that the property manager provided them with an air purifier.

Among other things, the settlement agreement requires the property manager to pay the woman and her adult daughter $12,000 and to develop a grievance procedure that complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

"A smoke-free environment can make a world of difference to a family whose child has a disability that limits their breathing," HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Anna María Farías said in a statement. "Reaching a mutually agreeable settlement of the case is a 'win-win' for everyone involved."

Disability is the most common basis of complaint filed with HUD and its partner agencies. Last year alone, HUD and its state and local partners investigated more than 4,500 disability-related complaints, nearly 55 percent of all fair housing complaints.

Editor’s Note: Deadline Approaches for All Public Housing to Be Smoke-Free: HUD’s final rule requires all public housing authorities (PHAs) administering public housing to adopt smoke-free policies by July 31, 2018. Under the rule, each PHA must implement a smoke-free policy banning the use of prohibited tobacco products in all public housing living units, indoor common areas in public housing, and in PHA administrative office buildings. The smoke-free policy must also extend to all outdoor areas up to 25 feet from the public housing and administrative office buildings. For more information, visit https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/healthy_homes/smokefree.