WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today an agreement with Delvista Towers Condominium Association, Inc., of Aventura, Florida, and its property management company, resolving allegations of housing discrimination against residents with disabilities. HUD claimed the condo association and its property managers denied the reasonable accommodation requests of residents with disabilities who needed assistance animals. Read the Conciliation Agreement.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in the terms and conditions of housing to an individual based on a disability, including denying reasonable accommodations or making them unavailable. This includes refusing to permit persons with disabilities to have assistance animals when necessary.
"People who have a disability and need a reasonable accommodation in order to live comfortably in their home shouldn't be denied that accommodation," said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "This agreement reflects HUD's ongoing commitment to ensuring that housing providers meet their obligation to comply with the nation's fair housing laws."
HUD initiated a discrimination complaint in April 2014 after receiving several reports from residents of Delvista Towers claiming their rights were being violated because of their disability. One resident alleged her request for a service animal for her son had been denied. Specifically, the woman said that when she contacted the property manager about her son's need for the reasonable accommodation, she was told that the request would not be approved and that the condominium was "currently involved in very expensive lawsuits with other residents regarding service animals." The woman further alleged that she was denied the opportunity to renew her lease because she mentioned her son's need for a service animal.
HUD's investigation indicated that other residents with disabilities were also denied their requests for assistance animals or refrained from requesting an accommodation for fear of being evicted.
Under the Conciliation Agreement, Delvista and its property management company, AKAM On-Site of Dania Beach, Fla., agreed to compensate one of the aggrieved persons and to donate to a non-profit disability rights organization. They also agreed to develop a reasonable accommodation policy that will be reviewed and approved by HUD and to provide for training of board members and property managers on the new policy and the Fair Housing Act.
Any person who believes he or she has experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD's free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.