Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced settlement of a disability discrimination Fair Housing Act (FHA) case from San Francisco, CA. A family filed a fair housing complaint asserting their apartment community failed to transfer them in violation of the FHA as their infant son had a disability and management was required to transfer them to a non-smoking unit.
The infant involved here has a condition that impacts his breathing. The family requested a transfer to a smoke-free building as a reasonable accommodation related to the young man’s disability. The family asserted that instead of moving them to a smoke free building, management simply provided them an air purifier. HUD concluded that solution was insufficient and brokered the settlement.
Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, the Respondents agreed to pay $12,000 and develop a grievance procedure that complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
As I have written in this space and elsewhere, complaints concerning disability discrimination now reflect over 50% of all of the housing discrimination complaints filed across the country. My docket similarly reflects the shift confirming that disability claims make up more than half of all the complaints that cross my desk. Indeed, HUD reports that in 2017 the department (as well as its state and local fair housing advocacy groups) investigated over 4,500 complaints in which disability discrimination was claimed. This is a trend which is simply not going to go away. Professional apartment management needs to ensure we have procedures in place to review, evaluate, and respond to each reasonable accommodation (or reasonable modification) request that is submitted by our residents. Or you may really need to speak with a lawyer like me.
Just A Thought.