In July, HUD levied two separate charges against landlords who allegedly violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to accommodate residents with assistance animals. Mahmoud Hussein of Windsor Locks, Conn., and Bouquet Builders of Rochester, Minn., will both answer to a HUD administrative law judge for denying residency to applicants whose doctors prescribed therapy dogs for their disabilities.
“The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to deny someone a reasonable accommodation if that accommodation is necessary for a person with a disability,” says Bryan Greene, assistant secretary for enforcement and programs in HUD's office of equal opportunity. “Reasonable accommodation cases account for close to 20 percent of all the cases we get.”
Greene says HUD is receiving as many fair housing discrimination complaints as it did in 2006 but might see an increase following the busy summer renting season. He attributes the volume of filings to high-profile public education campaigns. “We [want] people to see what discrimination looks like. [That way], if the same thing happens to them, they know they can come to HUD and file a complaint.”
In other fair housing news, The Bozzuto Group announced July 17 that it had reached a settlement with the Equal Rights Center over a 2005 lawsuit alleging that a number of Bozzuto properties were not designed or constructed in accordance with fair housing laws. “We have worked hard for two years to bring positive resolution to this issue,” said Bozzuto Group CEO Tom Bozzuto in a statement. “We have agreed that instead of further litigation, we would rather invest in improving housing for people with disabilities and sponsoring industry-wide education programs.”
Based in Washington, D.C., the Equal Rights Center has made similar allegations against Trammel Crow Residential, AvalonBay Communities, Post Properties, Kettler, Archstone-Smith, and Equity Residential.