Fair Housing vs. Unfair Housing

Do you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between fair housing and unfair housing isn't as obvious as you might think. This blog aims to present a variety of important and interesting fair housing issues.

If you're an apartment professional, avoid costly mistakes by reading the stories of others who — even with good intentions — learned compliance lessons the hard way. (For the easy way, click here.)

If you live in an apartment, get familiar with your rights when it comes to housing discrimination, as well as your options for seeking justice.

Friday, May 8, 2009

When You Can Afford the Rent But Can't Pay It

Several tenants at a 46-building apartment complex in Rockland County, New York could afford their apartments, but mental disabilities affected their ability to pay their rent on time, according to the Department of Justice in a May 6, 2009 press release. A local housing services organization has been helping by renting eight apartments from the landlord for its clients while guaranteeing the rent for 12 other apartments.

This arrangement appeared to work until May 2008, when the complex's owners claimed they weren't required to accept the organization's guarantees or treat its clients any differently than other tenants. In November, the owners brought a lawsuit against the organization, the county and its fair housing agency, as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to protect their rights.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is now suing the owners, claiming these tenants are legally entitled to be treated differently -- by getting reasonable accommodations for their disabilities under the Fair Housing Act. Because the tenants' disabilities impair their ability to pay rent, the DOJ argues, the complex owners must let the organization assist the tenants in this effort.

Are the complex owners within their rights to require mentally disabled tenants to pay rent on their own? Is a housing service organization's assistance a reasonable accommodation for a disability?

What do you think?


Connie G. said...

How tacky can the owners be? As long as they get the $$$ in the end, what is wrong with someone facilitating the process? I think it sounds like a wonderful arrangement!

Anonymous said...

what's the undue burden or fundamental alteration the owners complain of?