Real Estate

California landlords settle over alleged fair housing violation

Agreed to pay total of $72,000

Landlords in California agreed to settle with a tenant and the Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California over allegations of discrimination.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the agreement between the Northern California fair housing organization and the owners and managers of two apartment complexes in Greenbrae, California.

The agreement resolves allegations that the owners and their agents discriminated against a female tenant with disabilities who requires an assistance animal.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing opportunities to persons with disabilities or imposing different rental terms and conditions. This includes refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices for people with disabilities.

“Landlords are required to provide a reasonable accommodation for individuals who require assistance animals,” said Bryan Greene, HUD general deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “HUD is committed to make certain that landlords meet this obligation under the nation’s fair housing laws.”

The fair housing group alleged that the woman, who lived at the property for more than 15 years, was discriminated against through retaliation due to the presence of her assistance animal. The allegations say the landlords issued false accusations that the animal was disruptive, that it bit maintenance workers and that it was not a service animal under California law.

Ultimately, the woman’s Housing Assistance Program voucher was cancelled, forcing her to find housing elsewhere.

A subsequent HUD investigation corroborated the woman’s need for the dog and discovered written discriminatory statements made by the property managers. HUD found no evidence indicating that the animal was disruptive or had bitten anyone.

Now, under the conciliation agreement, the respondents will pay the woman $31,000 and pay Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California $41,000. The landlords will also have to develop and implement a reasonable accommodation and reasonable modification policy consistent with the Fair Housing Act.

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