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.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Bronx Tale of Denial, Then Harrassment

Many apartment residents need to have a change made to a policy or practice as an accommodation for a disability. Owners must consider all such "reasonable accommodation" requests, then grant them if there's evidence that the resident has a qualifying disability under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and needs the accommodation for that disability, and if the request is reasonable.

A new Charge brought by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) against a New York City cooperative claims that not only did the cooperative wrongfully deny a resident's request to keep an emotional support animal (despite a no-pets policy), but the cooperative harassed the resident because of it.

According to the Charge, the cooperative refused to accept the resident’s rent payments, threatened to suspend his garage privileges, and attempted to evict him from his apartment. In addition, the cooperative's security director allegedly didn't stop his officers from harassing the resident and his wife for keeping the service animal, even after the tenant specifically asked him to do so.

A HUD administrative law judge is expected to hear the case.

Interesting to note:
  • The cooperative, known as "Co-op City" and located in the Bronx, has 15,372 apartments in 35 high-rise buildings and seven townhouse clusters, housing roughly 50,000 low- and middle-income residents.

  • The cooperative appears to have been familiar with the FHA's requirement, having given the resident its own "Application for Reasonable Accommodation of Dog Application Form" to complete.

  • According to the Charge, the cooperative stopped contesting the dog's presence on account of New York City's three-month waiver rule. Read my About.com article for more information on this rule.

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