Have you ever been the victim of housing discrimination? In spite of the federal laws designed to stop it, cases still occur in America. And sometimes only the victim of the discrimination has the power to stop to perpetrator from future abuses. If you don’t report the illegal activity, it can happen to someone else.
Housing discrimination creates terrible conditions for anyone who wants to buy a new home. And this discrimination’s negative effects don’t stay neatly contained to the sector where the abuses occur, either.
Housing discrimination in the rental sector can negatively affect a house hunter’s ability to find housing at a reasonable price. It is sometimes necessary to rent a home while looking for a home to purchase. The damage housing discrimination does at the rental stage definitely creates problems in the purchase loan market, too.
In the earliest weeks of 2021, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced charges against the owner of rental duplexes in Hamilton, Missouri. A company called Dahms Investments, LLC and the property manager there are charged with violations of the Fair Housing Act.
What does HUD allege? Part of the charges stem from the owner’s alleged refusal to grant “a prospective tenant with a mental health disability a reasonable accommodation to waive the required pet deposit for her assistance animal” in violation of Fair Housing Act regulations.
The press release on the agency’s official site says that was not the only issue. “…the property manager told the woman that she would have to pay hundreds of dollars in pet fees and that she did not look like she had a disability” according to the press release, which adds that the property manager “told the woman that rules related to assistance animals only applied to individuals who are blind and/or deaf”.
In the real world, Fair Housing Act laws say landlords, property managers, and anyone else involved in the housing industry cannot deny or restrict housing for people with disabilities. Housing industry professionals also cannot refuse to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when necessary.
“It’s not a housing provider’s role to determine who does or does not need an assistance animal,” according to Jeanine Worden, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Worden, who was quoted in the HUD press release, also says the HUD action indicates a commitment from HUD to ensure housing providers live up to their Fair Housing Act responsibilities.
These Fair Housing charges are normally heard by a U.S. Administrative Law Judge, but this can change in circumstances where anyone involved in the case chooses it to be heard in federal court instead.
If the proceedings result in a verdict against the defendants, cash damages and other punitive measures are possible.
Violations of the Fair Housing Act should be reported no matter what stage of the housing process they might occur in. File a complaint with the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints can be filed online at hud.gov/fairhousing. Don’t delay in reporting violations of the Fair Housing Act.