Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) issued a press released stating it formally charged a New York property owner and manager with violating the Fair Housing Act (FHA). In its charging documents, HUD claims that the Respondents failed to permit a mother to have an assistance animal for her son (as the son has a mental disability). Additionally, HUD asserts that the owner and manager retaliated against the renters for exercising their fair housing rights.
Factually, the mother filed a complaint stating that the property manager refused to permit her son to have an assistance animal and further stated that the manager attempted to evict them because the mother and son asserted rights under the FHA. HUD also claims that even after learning from local county officials that the FHA does not require or limit dog sizes, the property manager nevertheless mandated the resident provide documentation that the assistance animal was an adult dog and confirm that the animal was under 20 pounds.
Now, just because HUD issued a charge of discrimination does not mean the facts are as asserted in the complaint. As I have written multiple times, I know there are always at least two sides to every story. But this complaint illustrates a consistent pattern I have seen from HUD over the years: the Department takes an exceedingly dim view of what they perceive as retaliation against residents who raise fair housing concerns or file housing discrimination complaints. The law is very clear that filing a discrimination complaint is protected activity and the government will act if it can show management is interfering. Also, HUD’s position is that there can be no canine breed or size restrictions with respect to assistance animals, even if a local ordinance is to the contrary.
If you have questions concerning issues like this, you might want to check with a lawyer like me.
Just A Thought.