In a statement issued at the end of last week, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced it resolved a disability discrimination Fair Housing Act (FHA) case in California asserting that various housing providers in and around Los Angeles failed to permit assistance animals for residents with disabilities. The settlement includes a payment of $15,000 as well as mandating various training, recordkeeping, and drafting of new anti-discrimination policies.
Factually, a local fair housing tester group filed a complaint after allegedly conducting tests at six Los Angeles area properties in an effort to demonstrate that the housing providers failed to permit residents with disabilities to have assistance animals. The complaint also asserted that employees of the housing providers refused to give individuals with disabilities appropriate information concerning assistance animals. The housing providers denied the allegations, but agreed to amicably resolve the case.
Neither HUD’s press release nor the text of the agreement provide any level of detail to determine what specific facts were contested or conceded. It does appear there were concerns over a perceived lack of ability to communicate in English as well as in other languages, as part of the agreement requires language assistance to those who may need it. There was nothing in the agreement identifying if there were medical verification concerns or if management was unaware of the disabilities of the residents. I also suspect (but cannot confirm) there was a refusal by the housing providers to permit service and/or emotional support animals altogether, which is a FHA red flag in 2019.
Just A Thought.