Experienced Landlord Facing Fines Over Pet Policy

 A landlord who oversees a 1672-unit housing cooperative in New York was charged with violating the Fair Housing Act for refusing to allow a tenant to keep a companion pet.

According to HUD, the leasing agents ignored the tenant’s request to keep her dog and threatened to evict her, despite proof that it was a medically-prescribed companion animal used to treat a disability.

The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations in their rules, policies, practices, or services when needed to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling. In the case of companion animals, that means waiving any pet policies that may apply to other tenants.

Bryan Greene, HUDs Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity adds, The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to grant reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities and HUD will continue to take action when they fail to comply with that obligation.

The tenant allegedly submitted a reasonable accommodation request to keep a dog in her apartment with a letter from her doctor explaining that she was disabled and needed a support animal to alleviate symptoms associated with her disabilities. Nonetheless, the employees allegedly refused to grant the womans request. HUDs charge further alleges that even after receiving multiple requests and documentation from multiple doctors, the tenant was told to remove her support dog, and an eviction was initiated. It is not known why the landlord refused the request.

If convicted, the landlord could face a claim for damages, administrative penalties, attorneys fees, and punitive damages, as well as injunctive orders, including mandatory training.

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