Mobile home community owners ignored multiple reasonable accommodations requests from resident
WASHINGTON – September 12, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging the owners of Whitacre’s Mobile Home Community (WMHC) in Inwood, West Virginia with discriminating against a resident with a disability by refusing to grant his request to keep his emotional support animal. HUD’s charge alleges that WMHC ignored the resident’s multiple requests for a reasonable accommodation and attempted to evict him.
The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations in their rules, policies, practices or services when needed to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling.
“Assistance animals provide persons with disabilities the stability they need to function on a daily basis,” stated Bryan Greene, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to enforce the Fair Housing Act’s protections to ensure that housing providers comply with their obligation to provide reasonable accommodations.”
According to HUD’s charge, a resident in the mobile home community who has difficulty sleeping and experiences severe anxiety as a result of a 2009 home invasion asked WHMC to waive its “no pets” policy and allow him to keep an emotional support dog that assists with coping with his disability. Although the resident submitted a doctor’s note attesting to his need for the animal, WHMC declined his requests and attempted to evict him.
HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to aggrieved persons for the harm caused them by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines in order to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages.
Persons who believe they have been denied a reasonable accommodation request 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 devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.