Fair housing for all
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has charged landlords in Moore, Oklahoma with a violation of the Fair Housing Act. The landlords failed to provide reasonable accommodation to their rental home tenant, a veteran diagnosed with service-connected Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder, according to the full charge.
Symptoms of these disorders include anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty going out in public, and these diagnoses classify the tenant as a person with a disability. According to the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal for housing providers to deny or restrict housing for people with disabilities. It is also illegal to refuse to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, including refusing to waive a pet fee for a disabled person with a service or support animal.
The situation in Moore
In July 2015, the veteran filed a complaint with HUD, alleging that his landlords refused to waive the $250 pet fee for his emotional support dog, even after he had provided medical confirmation of his diagnoses and his need for the animal.
“Under the law, assistance animals are not considered pets,” HUD says.
Over a year and a half later, in February 2017, HUD formally charged the landlords, and the charge will likely be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge. If the judge finds that discrimination has occurred, they may award damages and other relief, including payment of legal fees, to the disabled tenant. The judge may also impose fines on the landlords.
[clickToTweet tweet=”According to HUD, “disability is the most common basis of fair housing complaint filed.”” quote=”According to HUD, “disability is the most common basis of fair housing complaint filed with HUD and its partner agencies.””]
In 2016, HUD and its partners examined over 4,900 disability-related allegations – over 58 percent of all complaints.
Protect your clients’ rights
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is a $48 billion agency which regulates public housing in order to ensure that low income families and individuals with disabilities have access to safe housing.
HUD is newly headed by Trump-appointed Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon with no prior experience in government. In the past, Carson has been a vocal critic of HUD’s fair housing rule. Nonetheless, the law still stands.
If you (or your clients) believe you have experienced housing discrimination, you 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).
You can also go online to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or even download HUD’s free housing discrimination app onto your Apple or Android device! The process is slow, as evidenced above, but don’t let that stop you from defending your rights.