Dear Colleague,

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged Vandelay Group, LLC, Vandelay Oakland, LLC, Sigma Commercial, LLC, and Jeffrey Koenig, the owners and manager of apartment units in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with discrimination for allegedly refusing to rent a unit to an applicant with disabilities and their partner because the applicant requires an assistance animal. Read HUD’s Charge.

Under the Fair Housing Act, it is unlawful for housing providers to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodation may be necessary to afford a person with disabilities equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. The Act also prohibits housing providers from threatening and coercing persons who seek to exercise their fair housing rights.

“Assistance animals are not pets. They provide the support persons with disabilities need to live independent lifestyles,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Having the opportunity to keep an assistance animal is a right and HUD is committed to ensuring that housing providers not only recognize it, but meet their obligation to uphold that right.”

“Individuals with disabilities who need assistance animals to live their lives should not have to surmount unreasonable hurdles to keep those animals in their homes,” said Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel. “Discriminating against individuals with disabilities is unacceptable and illegal, and HUD will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act to combat this type of discrimination and to obtain relief for victims.”

HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court.

People 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).