A resident walking her mother’s dog, an assistance animal, to a common area was fined $100 by a condo association and the U.S. Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD) has filed a discrimination charge, according to a release.
Specifically, HUD’s charge alleges that the condo association only allowed the resident, who is sight and hearing impaired, to use the service door instead of the main entrance to the development or the common areas when accompanied by her assistance animal.
Rules said dog had to be in a crate
While the association, Hudson Harbour Condominium Association, Inc., in Newark, NJ, waived the no pet policy, it would not modify requirements that demanded the 75-pound assistance animal be carried in a crate or carrier to common areas, according to the complaint.
HUD’s charge further alleges that the condominium association charged the resident’s daughter a $100 fee because she walked her mother’s assistance animal in the development’s common areas.
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.
“Subjecting someone to different residency requirements because they use an assistance animal prevents that person from fully enjoying their home and is against the law,” Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in the release.
“Condo associations have an obligation to comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act when it comes to reasonable accommodations and HUD is committed to ensuring that they meet that obligation.”
Daughter had to walk the dog for the resident
The case came to HUD’s attention when the daughter of a condominium resident who uses an assistance animal filed a complaint alleging that the condominium association refused to waive its requirement that residents transport pets in carriers when in common areas. She was fined $100 for walking the animal in the development’s common areas.
Because of the resident’s mobility impairments, her daughter was primarily responsible for walking the dog. Additionally, when the resident was with her assistance animal, she was required to use the service door to enter and exit the building.
“Rules that limit access to condominium common areas for persons with disabilities who need an assistance animal violate the Fair Housing Act,” J. Paul Compton Jr., HUD’s General Counsel, said in the release. “This charge represents HUD’s commitment to ensuring that persons with disabilities are allowed to fully use and enjoy their homes.”
The charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he or she may award damages to the individual complainant for his or her loss as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order other injunctive or equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties to vindicate the public interest.
Last April, HUD marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, joining local communities, housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country in a coordinated campaign to enhance awareness of fair housing rights.