The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ended 2008 issuing two Charges of Discrimination in cases involving a landlord denying a disabled tenant's request for a reasonable accommodation.
Here's a rundown on the charges, both of which were issued on December 29, 2008:
1) Transfer trouble. A tenant who had difficulty walking and climbing stairs settled for an apartment on the second floor of a Mississippi apartment building. The landlord, however, assured the tenant that she could transfer to a ground-floor apartment as a reasonable accommodiation once such an apartment became available. While living on the second floor, the tenant fell at least three times, according to the Charge, despite the help of a back brace and cane.
Finally, a ground-floor apartment became available, but the landlord rented the apartment to a displaced Katrina victim who wasn't disabled. The tenant, who has since moved out of the building, seeks compensation for her emotional distress and the financial costs associated with her landlord's refusal to grant her requested accommodation. The landlord also faces a possible civil penalty for each violation.
2) A dogged policy on dogs. A Minnesota landlord made it clear that "no dogs" were allowed in the apartment he advertised in the local newspaper. A woman who responded to the ad asked if her daughter can keep a dog, pointing out that it's a service animal that she needs as a reasonable accommodation for her disability. The landlord insisted that "no dogs" means just that, and noted that he recently won a lawsuit over this issue. HUD's Charge notes that the lawsuit in question was dismissed against the landlord because the former tenant couldn't prove that the animal was medically necessary. By contrast, the woman offered the landlord a a note from her daughter's physician to support her reasonable accommodation request.
The landlord, however, refused to accept the note or entertain the woman's request. He now faces a possible $16,000 civil penalty plus damages to compensate the woman and her daughter for their emotional distress, economic loss, and loss of a unique housing opportunity.