TRICK OR TREAT: ACCOMMODATE DON’T DISCRIMINATE

Published on: November 20, 2017

Condominium fair housing and discrimination claims continue to be a source of horror for condominiums.  As illustrated by the four cases below, even the federal government can be scary.  Condominium Boards need to think carefully and consult with counsel as appropriate to ensure that what they think is a treat, does not turn out to be a trick.

 

  • On July 15, 2016, the Division filed a Statement of Interest in Arnal v. Aspen View Condo. Ass’n (D. Colo.), a lawsuit alleging discrimination on the basis of disability and retaliation under the Fair Housing Act.  The plaintiff, the owner of a condominium unit, alleges that his condominium association improperly denied a reasonable accommodation to its “no dogs” policy to allow his tenant to keep a service dog that assisted her with her epilepsy, and that the condo association retaliated against him for allowing the tenant to keep the dog by issuing fines.  The Statement of Interest argued that a plaintiff may maintain a retaliation claim even in the absence of an underlying discrimination claim and that evidence that defendants’ imposition of fines on a unit owner for allowing a tenant the requested accommodation supported a prima facie case of retaliation under Section 3617, notwithstanding the tenant’s alleged failure to provide what the condo association considered to be adequate and timely documentation of her disability and disability-related need for an accommodation.

 

  • On May 3, 2016, the court entered a consent decree in United States v. Avatar Properties, Inc. (D. N.H.), a Fair Housing Act case alleging that a condominium complex in Londonderry, New Hampshire refused to assign an accessible parking space to a resident with a spinal cord injury.  The consent decree requires the defendants to pay $25,000 to the HUD complainant, to adopt a reasonable accommodation policy and to obtain fair housing training.

 

  • On June 23, 2016, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Noble Homes (N.D. Ohio), a Fair Housing Act case alleging that the defendants failed to design and construct two neighboring condominium complexes with the required accessibility features.  The consent order includes injunctive relief and a total payment of $160,000 for a retrofit fund to remediate features of the condominium units that are inaccessible, damages for aggrieved persons, and a civil penalty.

 

  • On December 23, 2015, the United States Attorney’s Office filed a Fair Housing Act complaint in United States v. Trump Village Section IV Inc. (E.D.N.Y.), alleging that a housing cooperative in Brooklyn, New York refused to allow an Army combat veteran with PTSD and two other residents with disabilities to live with their emotional support animals and then retaliated against them for exercising their fair housing rights.

 

If your Association want a treat or have other ghoulish questions, contact Ed Allcock at eallcock@meeb.com.