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New Jersey condo association charged with disability discrimination

Condo allegedly forced sight-impaired resident to use separate entrance

A condo association in New Jersey is coming under fire as it allegedly forced a resident who is sight- and hearing-impaired to use a separate entrance.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development charged Hudson Harbour Condominium Association in Newark, New Jersey with discrimination. The disabled resident was allegedly forced to use the service door instead of the main entrance to the development’s common areas when accompanied by her assistance animal.

HUD also alleges that the condo charged the resident’s daughter a fee for walking the assistance animal in the development’s common areas.

It was the resident’s daughter who filed a complaint with HUD after the condo refused to waive its requirements that residents transport pets in carriers when in common areas, and was fined $100 for walking the animal in the common areas.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to those with disabilities or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices.

“Subjecting someone to different residency requirements because they use an assistance animal prevents that person from fully enjoying their home and is against the law,” said Anna María Farías, HUD assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “Condo associations have an obligation to comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act when it comes to reasonable accommodations and HUD is committed to ensuring that they meet that obligation.”

HUD explained that, because of the resident’s mobility impairments, her daughter was primarily responsible for walking the dog.

“Rules that limit access to condominium common areas for persons with disabilities who need an assistance animal violate the Fair Housing Act,” HUD General Counsel J. Paul Compton said. “This charge represents HUD’s commitment to ensuring that persons with disabilities are allowed to fully use and enjoy their homes.”

The charge will be heard by a U.S. administrative law judge, unless either part elects for the case to be heard in federal court.

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