HUD accuses Jackson homeowners association of disability discrimination
CASPER, Wyoming – The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is accusing the Spring Creek Homeowners Association in Jackson, Wyoming of discrimination based on disability.
According to a statement on Tuesday, the Spring Creek Homeowners Association is described as the governing body for some 131 residential units in Jackson. The statement says the association discriminated against two landlords by “imposing restrictions on their service animals and retaliating against them for filing a complaint under the Housing Act fair”.
According to the release, the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, which includes “the refusal to allow reasonable accommodations that would otherwise allow homeowners with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their accommodation”. This would include a waiver to rules restricting pets, allowing owners with disabilities to enjoy and use their accommodation.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced that it is accusing Spring Creek Homeowners Association, the governing body of approximately 131 residential units in Jackson, Wyoming, of discriminating against two homeowners because of a disability by imposing restrictions on their service animals and retaliating against them for filing a complaint under the Fair Housing Act. Read the load from the HUD.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on disability. This includes refusing to allow reasonable accommodations that would otherwise give landlords with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their homes. A reasonable accommodation includes a waiver of the rules restricting pets. The law also prohibits retaliation against individuals for filing a fair housing complaint with HUD.
“Many people with disabilities rely on service animals to live in their homes and enjoy the benefits of their residential communities,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is committed to challenging impermissible attempts to limit the use of service animals.”
“Today’s action should remind housing providers, including HOAs, that they must make exceptions to restrictive pet rules for people with disabilities who need service animals,” said HUD General Counsel Damon Smith. “HUD will continue to enforce the Fair Housing Act to ensure people with disabilities have equal access to housing and are not subject to retaliation for exercising their right to fair housing.”
HUD’s discrimination charge alleges that the Spring Creek Homeowners Association enforced rules limiting the rights of residents with service animals, including requiring documentation typically provided to some airlines and allowing service dogs on be walked only off Spring Creek property and relieve themselves only on property. early in the morning or late in the evening. After the homeowners challenged these policies and filed a complaint with HUD, the Spring Creek Homeowners Association sent a letter to all community residents chastising the homeowners for attempting to circumvent HOA arbitration provisions and questioning publicly about owners’ need for their assistance dogs.
A United States administrative law judge will hear the HUD charge unless a party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative judge finds, after a hearing, that there has been discrimination, he can award damages to the owners for the losses they suffered as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order an injunction and other equitable relief, to deter further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney’s fees. In addition, the judge can impose civil penalties to assert the public interest. If the Federal Court hears the case, the judge may also award punitive damages to the plaintiff.
Individuals who believe they may be experiencing housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice) 800-927-9275 (TTY). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing and www.justice.gov.