Disability News /KLKC
Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has charged the owner and manager of a Lakewood, Washington trailer park with discriminating on the basis of disability. HUD brings the charge on behalf of the Fair Housing Center of Washington, alleging that the owner and property manager of Terrace Trailers refused to make a reasonable accommodation to their “no pets” policy for testers posing as applicants with disabilities who needed service dogs.
The Fair Housing Act requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations in their rules or policies if necessary to afford equal housing opportunities to persons with disabilities. According to HUD’s charge, the Fair Housing Center of Washington (FHCW), a local non-profit organization, initiated testing after seeing an advertisement for a rental unit at Terrace Trailers indicating a “no pets” policy during a random audit of online rental postings. In two separate tests, testers were told that animals were not allowed even after the testers explained that their dogs were service animals. 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 an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that illegal discrimination has occurred, he may award monetary damages to the Fair Housing Center. 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 fines in order to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages to aggrieved persons.