Pursuant to the terms of a formal Consent Order, earlier this month, a property owner/manager in Georgia agreed to settle a Fair Housing Act (FHA) disability discrimination case for $34,900 as well as various additional affirmative relief. Factually, the case arose because a resident who received disability benefits sought a reasonable accommodation to move the date his rent was due to match up with the date his disability check arrived. What made the situation worse for management here was that for a number of years the system had worked and the resident paid his rent after receipt of the disability check.

However, after the property changed hands, new management started assessing late fees and charges owing to what they considered to be delinquent rent payments. In an effort to resolve the matter, the resident retained counsel and made a formal reasonable accommodation request to change the date the rent was due. Those efforts were unsuccessful and HUD charged the complaint.

To resolve the matter, in addition to the $34,900, management agreed to an injunction as well as various affirmative relief (including fair housing training). The size of this resolution shows HUD took this matter seriously – as a settlement close to $35,000 is not typical. While I know there are always two sides to every case, in my experience, changing the date rent is due as a reasonable accommodation for a disabled resident is an uncomplicated request. What made the facts more difficult here, of course, is that the prior management company worked with the resident and the new owner did not.

Just A Thought.