WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today charged Hudson Harbour Condominium Association, Inc., in Newark, NJ, with discriminating against a resident with disabilities.
Specifically, HUD’s charge alleges that the condo association only allowed the resident, who is sight and hearing impaired, to use the service door instead of the main entrance to the development or the common areas when accompanied by her assistance animal. HUD’s charge further alleges that the condominium association charged the resident’s daughter a fee because she walked her mother’s assistance animal in the development’s common areas. Read the charge.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices.
“Subjecting someone to different residency requirements because they use an assistance animal prevents that person from fully enjoying their home and is against the law,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Condo associations have an obligation to comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act when it comes to reasonable accommodations and HUD is committed to ensuring that they meet that obligation.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when the daughter of a condominium resident who uses an assistance animal filed a complaint alleging that the condominium association refused to waive its requirement that residents transport pets in carriers when in common areas, and was fined $100 for walking the animal in the development’s common areas. Because of the resident’s mobility impairments, her daughter was primarily responsible for walking the dog. Additionally, when the resident was with her assistance animal, she was required to use the service door to enter and exit the building.
“Rules that limit access to condominium common areas for persons with disabilities who need an assistance animal violate the Fair Housing Act,” said J. Paul Compton Jr., HUD’s General Counsel. “This charge represents HUD’s commitment to ensuring that persons with disabilities are allowed to fully use and enjoy their homes.”
The charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he or she may award damages to the individual complainant for his or her loss as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order other injunctive or equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties to vindicate the public interest.
Last April, HUD marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, joining local communities, housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country in a coordinated campaign to enhance awareness of fair housing rights.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).