U.S. v. San Miguel 1 Homeowners Association
The San Miguel 1 Homeowners Association in Oceanside, Calif. recently agreed to a $60,000 settlement with a disabled man after the man charged that the homeowners association failed to grant the man’s reasonable accommodation request. The homeowners association planned on installing a new electronic security gate to the condominium. The disabled homeowner asked the homeowners association board to also install a fail-safe system in case of a power outage since he is a wheelchair user and was fearful of not being able to exit in case of emergency.
The homeowners association subsequently turned down the request for the back-up system and the homeowner then requested reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act. Following installation of the gate, the homeowner moved out since he believed he may not able to exit in case of emergency, and he then filed a complaint with HUD. In September 2001, HUD issued a “charge of discrimination” and in January 2002, the Justice Department filed suit against the homeowners association. After one year of litigation, the homeowners association agreed to the $60,000 settlement in February 2003.
U.S. v. Savannah Pines
A retirement community in Omaha, Neb. has agreed to an $87,000 settlement with five disabled residents who charged that the community discriminated against them because they had motorized wheelchairs and scooters. The community had specific lease restrictions requiring that all residents live without caretakers, ordered those with mobility impairments to purchase liability insurance for their wheelchairs and scooters, and banned the wheelchairs and scooters from common areas. Those with motorized wheelchairs and scooters also had to pay higher security deposits.
The Justice Department filed suit against the community owners alleging Fair Housing Act violations. The community owners subsequently agreed to an $87,000 settlement in April 2003.
Fair Housing Council v. Wilson et al.
The owners of an apartment building in Louisville, Ky. recently settled a Fair Housing Act complaint involved familial status discrimination and advertising for $7,500 and mandatory fair housing training. At issue was a series of apartment rental advertisements placed in a newspaper by the building owners that contained the wording “ideal for single older person” and “ideal for 1.” On subsequent investigation using fair housing testers, the apartment owners would inquire about familial status and told a pregnant tester and a male tester with a son that there were “a lot of elderly and retired” people in the building and no children. In addition, the apartment owners failed to show up for an appointment to show an apartment for a person with a child.
Following the tests, the Fair Housing Council of Kentucky filed a fair housing complaint with HUD. The apartment owners contend there was no discriminatory intent and admitted no wrongdoing. The $7,500 settlement reached in March 2003 is the cost of the mandatory fair housing training.
U.S. v. Schaberg
The owners of an apartment building in Missoula, Mont. recently settled a Fair Housing Act complaint by a man who claimed he was denied an apartment because he was a single man. When the man looked into renting an apartment and mentioned he planned on living alone, the apartment owner explained she did not rent to single men and preferred to rent to female tenants.
The man subsequently contacted the Montana Fair Housing Council alleging sex discrimination. The council then sent a male and female tester to the apartment building. The apartment owner told the female tester she did not want to rent to single men. Following a complaint filed with HUD, the apartment owner disclosed the policy of not renting to single men. The Justice Department filed suit and the apartment owner then agreed to a $20,000 settlement and mandatory fair housing training in March 2003.