Partial Compliance Not Good Enough
An Atlanta landlord and developer may be feeling the sting of doing too little, too late when it comes to Fair Housing compliance.
The company, headquartered in Atlanta, owns more than 17,000 units, many of the them used as rentals. After 1991, the year that the Fair Housing Act first required new multi family housing to contain accessible features, the company designed, constructed and developed at least 50 multi family apartment complexes in Georgia, Texas, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
At least half of the units have elevators that serve every unit in an attempt to comply with the Fair Housing Acts accessibility requirements. However, many of the complexes were designed and constructed without accessible routes leading into and through the apartment buildings. Many entranceways have steps and steep curb ramps making them inaccessible to a person using a wheelchair. In addition, certain housing units have narrow doors and hallways; kitchens and bathrooms that lack accessible clear floor space; and thermostats that are mounted too high to be accessible to a person using a wheelchair.
“Our office is committed to protecting the rights of citizens with disabilities and ensuring that they are fully integrated in our community, and have the housing choices that the law provides,” said Sally Quillian Yates, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, who joined in bringing a lawsuit against the company this week.
The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the defendants to modify the complexes to bring them into compliance with federal laws and prohibiting defendants from engaging in discrimination. The allegations must still be proven in federal court.