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HUD Rules On Violations of Fair Housing Act

Recently, HUD brought attention to two cases highlighting violations of the Fair Housing Act, emphasizing the critical importance of understanding and complying with fair housing laws at both the federal and state levels.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plays a vital role in upholding the principles of fair housing across the United States. Recently, HUD brought attention to two cases highlighting violations of the Fair Housing Act, emphasizing the critical importance of understanding and complying with fair housing laws at both the federal and state levels.

In the first case, HUD charged PadSplit, Inc., a property management company, along with Kevin and Lydia Forrestal, the owners, for failing to accommodate a tenant's requests for a service animal and a visual doorbell. The tenant, who is deaf, sought reasonable accommodations, but PadSplit's refusal to accept her service dog certificate and denial of the flashing doorbell request led to the tenant eventually moving out. HUD intervened, seeking compensation, civil penalties, and mandatory fair housing training for PadSplit and the Forrestals.

Similarly, in the second case, HUD charged the Grapevine Housing Authority, a low income housing agency in the City of Grapevine Texas, with multiple Fair Housing Act violations concerning its treatment of a tenant with disabilities. These violations included attempted eviction without adequate notice and other discriminatory actions. HUD pursued remedies such as compensatory damages and civil penalties against the Grapevine Housing Authority.

Individuals with a disability may request to keep an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation to a community's pet restrictions. Communities cannot refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. Once a reasonable accommodation request is made, the community must engage in the interactive process under federal and state fair housing laws, and should contact legal counsel right away. A manager cannot automatically say no because a request violates a community rule.

If an individual's disability and the disability-related need for the animal were not apparent, a community, after speaking with legal counsel, likely may ask the individual to provide reliable disability-related information, such as a note from a licensed medical provider.

These cases serve as a reminder of the obligations and responsibilities that individuals and organizations involved in housing must uphold. Understanding federal laws like the Fair Housing Act and relevant state legislation, such as Arizona's Fair Housing Act, is crucial to prevent violations. Anytime a community receives a reasonable accommodation request or has a question regarding federal or state fair housing laws, the community should always contact legal counsel before proceeding in order to help avoid violations.

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