Violations of the Fair Housing Act can seriously compromise a house hunter’s ability to find and keep housing.
Even discrimination at the rental level can affect the ability to buy a home-how is someone supposed to rent an apartment in the meantime while dealing with discrimination?
We report on these issues to raise awareness of how Fair Housing Act laws make house hunting more accessible and how violations of these laws hinder the consumer.
In a recent example, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced charges against Roderick Apartments in Clinton, Maine for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.
These charges are associated with a complaint that the apartment owners denied a veteran with disabilities to keep an assistance animal on the property.
Fair Housing Act guidelines make it illegal for housing providers (rentals or purchases) from “denying or limiting housing to people with disabilities” according to HUD.
The law also prohibits refusal by property managers, landlords, etc. to make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities-up to and including permitting them to own assistance animals and keep them in the home.
“No person with a disability should be denied the accommodation they need, especially individuals who served in the Armed Forces to defend our freedom,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, who was quoted in a HUD press release.
She adds, “HUD will continue to work to ensure that housing providers meet their obligation to comply with this nation’s fair housing laws.”
Often, the victim of the discrimination or violation of Fair Housing laws is the only one who can prevent future discrimination.
In this case, HUD learned of the situation when a veteran with disabilities “filed a complaint alleging that Roderick Apartments refused to lease an apartment to him because he uses a dog as an assistance animal” according to the HUD official site.
HUD tested this claim, via an effort by Pine Tree Legal Assistance which HUD describes as a nonprofit offering free civil and legal assistance to low- income Maine residents. The nonprofit “confirmed Roderick Apartments’ policy of refusing to rent to persons with an assistance animal.”
This case will come before a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court.
If the case is ruled in favor of the veteran, financial damages may be awarded as well as injunctive relief ; the judge may also “impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest” according to a HUD press release.
Have you experienced discrimination at any stage of the housing process? File a complaint with the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).