We have posted previous entries discussing the need for apartment owners and management companies to ensure that reasonable accommodation and reasonable modification requests from residents are appropriately handled. The consequences of failing to respond or acting as to deny a request for an accommodation or modification can be severe.
Just last week, HUD charged a property owner, its president, and a management company, with violations of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for failing to provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled veteran. HUD claims that the property owner failed to accommodate a 71 year old double amputee (who is a Vietnam Era veteran) with a wheelchair accessible housing unit. HUD further alleges that the owner threatened to evict the tenant after he sought assistance from the Miami-Dade County Commissioner’s office.
According to HUD, the tenant’s social worker contacted management on numerous occasions, requesting that accessibility features, such as wider doorways, be provided to the resident’s apartment, or that management move the tenant to an accessible unit. The complaint alleges management refused these requests, and the tenant contacted a government agency for help. Following a visit from a local government representative, the tenant was transferred to a different unit, which was also not accessible, for six months. The tenant was later returned to his original unit, which had still not been made accessible, and which had its stove removed.
>As faithful readers of this blog know, I need to hear management’s version of the events as we believe there are always two sides to every story. That being said, even if management has a good reason for making the decisions it did, this case demonstrates the costs of delaying or failing to appropriately respond to a reasonable accommodation request. Even if management was correct (and the HUD complaint asserts management was flat wrong in violation of the FHA), the landlord must now pay lawyers like us to defend against a charge.
This case also reaffirms my belief that HUD takes seriously claims that efforts by a resident to seek assistance from a government official or fair housing agency were thwarted. HUD just will not stand for actions the department believes are in retaliation against a resident for exercising his or her rights under the FHA.
Just a Thought.