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HUD No. 24-043
HUD Public Affairs
(202) 708-0685
February 29, 2024

HUD Charges Georgia Landlords with Housing Discrimination After Denying Tenant with a Disability the Right to Keep Her Service Dog

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging PadSplit, Inc., a property management company, Kevin Lee Forrestal and Lydia Forrestal, the property owners, in Decatur, Georgia, with discrimination against a tenant because of her disability. HUD’s Charge of Discrimination alleges that respondents failed to grant a reasonable accommodation when a hearing-impaired complainant requested to have a service animal to assist with her disability. Read the charge.

“HUD has a responsibility to protect tenants and ensure equal access to housing for all,” said Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “We will always defend people who face discrimination as we work to end it.”

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.

“Failing to provide a person who is deaf a reasonable accommodation is not only unacceptable, but it is also illegal disability discrimination,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This charge demonstrates HUD’s commitment to ensuring that persons can enjoy their homes in a safe manner.”

HUD’s Charge of Discrimination alleges that the property’s management company and its employees, and the condominium unit’s owners, prohibited a hearing-impaired resident from using a service animal in their unit, and refused to install a visual doorbell and smoke detector, preventing her full use of her unit. Ultimately, their actions resulted in the resident’s decision to move out of the unit.

“The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to permit persons with disabilities service animals that are needed for equal enjoyment of housing,” said Damon Smith, HUD General Counsel.  “The Department has made clear that we will take enforcement action to stop housing providers from subjecting their tenants to disability discrimination.”

HUD's charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an ALJ finds after a hearing that retaliation has occurred, they may award damages to the complainant for harm caused by discrimination. The ALJ may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the ALJ may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the Federal Court judge may also award punitive damages.

People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing providers and others can learn more about their responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications for individuals with disabilities here. Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing.


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