The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has charged Heathermoor II, LLC, and Valhalla Management & Real Estate, LLC, both of Westerville, Ohio, with discrimination for refusing the request of a West Virginia female resident with disabilities to have a designated parking space, according to a release.
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.
HUD’s charge alleges that the Ohio owners of Heathermoor II Apartments in Weirton, West Virginia, refused to grant a designated parking space to a resident with disabilities, despite the woman providing medical documentation attesting to her need for the accommodation. As a result, the woman and her children had to move to a different complex.
The HUD discrimination charge states the woman:
- Made a verbal request to the apartment’s property manager for a designated parking space as a reasonable accommodation for her disability.
- In reply, the property manager informed her she needed to get a prescription from her doctor.
- In July 2015 she provided the property manager with a prescription from her medical provider, dated July 6, 2015, stating “Pt has a disability + requires a designated parking place close to home….”
- The property manager provided her with a reasonable accommodation request form.
- She returned the completed form, along with a copy of her July 6, 2015, prescription, noting that she was requesting a designated parking space.
- Her medical provider indicated that she is disabled, that she needs the requested designated parking space close to her unit to be able to live in the apartment community, and that there is an identifiable relationship between her requested accommodation and her disability.
- The apartments failed to grant the woman’s reasonable accommodation request.
In 2017 the woman and her four minor children moved from the property.
“When a resident needs a designated parking space as an accommodation for her disability and providing one will not be an undue burden or fundamental alteration, a housing provider must do so,” Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel, said in a release.
“For many individuals with disabilities, certain accommodations are necessary in order for them to fully enjoy their home,” Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in the release.
“HUD will continue to take action to ensure that housing providers recognize and meet their obligation to comply with the nation’s fair housing laws.”
“We want housing providers to know what their legal responsibilities are and to follow them. If they don’t, we will bring charges like this one.”
HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If the judge finds that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainant for harm caused by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages.
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. Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Read more.