- Resident requests accommodation
- Owner ignores/denies request
- Resident sues
But in a recent case from Puerto Rico (which, as part of the United States, is covered by the Fair Housing Act), there was a twist. The owners of a coop decided to shut down the trash room on each floor of their building and require residents to personally dispose of their trash outside. A resident with fibromyalgia, fatigue, and depression claimed that her disabilities prevented her from complying, and so the owners agreed to collect her trash. However, after collecting the resident's trash on three occasions, the owners reversed course. Not only did they stop accommodating the resident, who continued to leave trash outside her door for collection, but they issued a resolution reprimanding the resident for her behavior and ordering the resident to dispose of her trash in an indoor receptacle that was too small.
The resident filed a fair housing complaint with HUD, and four months later, the owners reversed course again. This time, they gave the resident a key to access the trash room on her floor. Problem solved, it would seem, but the damage was done. On August 5, 2008, HUD charged the owners with discrimination, finding that the resident "suffered... emotional and physical distress, embarrassment and humiliation." Among other damages, HUD's attorneys are requesting a $16,000 penalty for each violation.