The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced last week that it has charged a Utah Property Management Company and owner(s) with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow a single mother and her son, who has disabilities, to keep an assistance animal and by using burdensome policies and forms for reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals at four properties.

“When property owners refuse to allow a family to have a necessary assistance animal, they are denying the family’s right to fully enjoy their home. This is unacceptable and against the law,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to take enforcement action whenever the rights of families or persons with disabilities are violated.”

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. This includes waiving pet restrictions for assistance animals.

“This is a very, very expensive situation and one in which all property managers and owners need to be aware,” said Bryan Mower, President Western Reporting, Inc. “One fair housing complaint can be compounded exponentially costing thousands of dollars in fines. Careful applicant screening while utilizing compliant screening companies is imperative when dealing with HUD Fair Housing laws.”

Mower stated that most owners of properties who contract with property management firms assume they are not liable for infractions. “it is not true,” said Mower. “If you could have known it, you should have known it. The law does not exempt owners and places responsibility of compliance on both management companies and owners.”

In FY 2015, disability was the most common basis of complaints filed with HUD and its partner agencies, being cited as a basis for 4,548 complaints, or nearly 55 percent of the overall total.

For more information regarding discrimination  Fair Housing laws, contact Western Reporting at 1 800 466 1996 www.westernreporting.com