CityVision Services, Inc. has recently filed a number of complaints with HUD under the Fair Housing Act. Those I am familiar with all follow the same pattern. Someone from CityVision calls an apartment complex asking about pet deposit policies and then mentions a therapy animal. The manager or leasing agent makes the mistake of saying all animals require a pet deposit. No one ever comes to the complex or makes a rental application, but CityVision files a Fair Housing complaint on its own behalf as a “tester.” The apartment owners I’ve spoken with were all located in East Texas, but the extent of this particular effort by CityVision Services is impossible to tell because HUD complaints are not public. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Litigation General, Apartments, Building Codes, FHA, Multi-Family Tags: Consent Decree, Construction, Department of Justice, DOJ, FHA
The Department of Justice announced in late July a settlement with a substantial multi-family developer in West Virginia that had managed over a decade or so to construct 23 apartment complexes that did not comply with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act (see the DOJ press release here). In addition to remediation costs, which appear to be substantial, the developer will pay $205,000 in damages and penalties and construct new accessible units. Like most FHA cases, it is a big deal.
One of my fellow bloggers has helpfully suggested that if the DOJ investigates a situation like this you need a lawyer “like me.” What developers “like you” really need is not to be investigated in the first place, and if investigated to not be liable. You can find a link to the consent decree in the DOJ press release, and the problems it lists are the same problems that appear over and over again in FHA lawsuits. Lawyers didn’t cause them, and lawyers really can’t prevent them. Developers, however, can. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA FHA General, Apartments, Condominiums, FHA, Landlord-tenant, Multi-Family, Policies and Procedures FHA ADA Tags: Apartments, Condominiums, disparate impact, FHA Litigation, FHA Policies, private lawsuits
On June 25 the Supreme Court held that FHA discrimination claims can be based on disparate impact. Texas Dep’t of Hous. & Cmty. Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 2015 WL 2473449, at *9 (U.S. June 25, 2015). At first blush this doesn’t seem to have much to do with accessibility claims. When we talk about the policies that discriminate against those with disabilities we usually look at 42 U.S.C. Section 3604(f)(3)(B), which requires reasonable accommodation; that is, exceptions to a policy because the policy has a disproportionate impact on those with disabilities. However, Inclusive Communities Project may have its own disparate impact on claims of disability discrimination. More
U.S. v. Avatar Properties, Inc., 2015 WL 2130540 (D. New Hampshire 2015) is a little case with a big reminder: condominium and homeowners associations fail to accommodate disabilities at their own risk. The law isn’t perfectly settled, but it is safe to say based on this and other cases that ignoring an accommodation request is probably not a good idea.
By richardhunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Litigation General, Apartments, Condominiums, FHA, Landlord-tenant, Multi-Family, Reasonable accommodation Tags: FHA Litigation, private lawsuits, private litigants, service animals, support animals, therapy animals
When a Court refers to the case before it as a “sad commentary on the litigious nature of our society” you can be fairly sure that one party or the other is going to do badly. In Sabal Palm Condominiums of Pine Island Ridge Ass’n, Inc. v. Fischer, 2014 WL 988767 (S.D.Fla. 2014) it was the owner of a condominium development who decided to rely on superficially clever lawyering instead of common sense. The disabled individual who sought a service dog didn’t fare well either, but was, in the end, the winner. The case should be helpful to property owners and managers as they sort through what they can and cannot ask about when confronted with a reasonable accommodation request. More