|HUD No. 23-142
HUD Public Affairs
July 14, 2023
HUD Charges Landlord and Realtor with Disability Discrimination
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged Serrot Management LLC, the owner of a dwelling in Maplewood, New Jersey, and its realtor with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow a prospective tenant with a disability to live with her assistance animal. Read the Charge.
The Fair Housing Act (“Act”) prohibits discrimination based on disability. Such discrimination includes refusing to rent based on a person’s disability, failing to grant reasonable accommodations, or subjecting tenants to discriminatory terms and conditions.
HUD’s Charge of Discrimination alleges that respondents approved the complainant’s application to rent an apartment in Maplewood, New Jersey. However, they imposed discriminatory terms and conditions on the complainant’s tenancy and eventually rescinded their approval after they learned she required an assistance animal. Although the complainant offered medical support documentation for her assistance animal, the landlord continued to impose onerous conditions, denied her reasonable accommodation request, and ultimately denied her housing. The complainant was forced to find another place to live with her family under a tight time deadline.
“Persons with disabilities must not be subjected to burdensome constraints while trying to secure housing. The rights of persons with disabilities have been protected under the Fair Housing Act for more than 30 years, yet they continue to face discrimination,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD Principal Assistant Deputy Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is committed to vigorously enforcing the Act to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities.”
“The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations that are necessary for an individual with disabilities to have equal enjoyment of housing,” said HUD’s General Counsel, Damon Smith. “In some cases, that means a housing provider must permit the use of an assistance animal without imposing onerous conditions.”
A United States Administrative Law Judge will hear HUD’s charge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. After a hearing, if an administrative law judge finds that discrimination occurred, they may award damages to the individuals for their losses. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, to deter further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties to vindicate the public interest. If the federal court hears the case, the judge may also award punitive damages to the complainant.
People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice) 800-927-9275 (TTY) or the Department of Justice at (800) 896-7743 or 202-514-4713. Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing and www.justice.gov. Materials and assistance are available for persons with limited English proficiency. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may contact the Department using the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.