Utah Community Pays to Resolve Dispute About Veteran's Assistance Animal

Last month, the Justice Department announced a $20,000 consent decree that resolves a lawsuit alleging that a Utah condominium association and its management company violated federal fair housing law by refusing to grant a resident’s request for a reasonable accommodation.

The lawsuit alleges that the association, its property management company, and an on-site property manager refused to grant a reasonable accommodation so that a disabled combat veteran of the first Gulf War could keep a small dog in the condominium he rented to help him cope with the effects of depression and anxiety disorder. Allegedly, the defendants refused to waive their pet fees and insurance requirements and issued multiple fines that eventually led to the nonrenewal of his lease.

In addition to paying the $20,000 settlement to the veteran, the defendants agreed to attend fair housing training; implement a new reasonable accommodation policy that does not charge pet fees to owners of service or assistance animals and does not require them to purchase liability insurance; and comply with notice, monitoring, and reporting requirements.

“No veteran should be denied the right to have a support animal when they return home with mobility impairments or other conditions,” said John Trasviña, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD and the Department of Justice are committed to enforcing the Fair Housing Act and ensuring that housing providers grant people with disabilities reasonable accommodations.”

Source: U.S. Department of Justice