Sunday, March 26, 2017

Landlord Who Allegedly Tried To Boot Blind, PTSD-Suffering Tenant's Assistance Animals Agrees To Cough Up $20K (Tenant's Share - $15K) To Settle Massachusetts AG's Charges Of Fair Housing Violations

From the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General:
  • Multiple individuals will receive monetary damages and several property owners and management companies across the state will strengthen their anti-discrimination and fair housing policies after three separate settlements were reached over claims of disability-based housing discrimination against tenants, Attorney General Maura Healey announced [recently].

    The AG’s Office finalized settlements in three separate cases resolving allegations that the defendants, mainly property owners and managers, discriminated against tenants by failing to reasonably accommodate their disabilities.
In one case:
  • New Depot and Housing Solutions own a rental property located in East Wareham that consists of approximately 32 affordable housing units managed by HallKeen through property manager Dianne Callahan.

    According to the AG’s complaint, these defendants engaged in discriminatory and unlawful housing practices against a tenant on the basis of his disability by failing to provide reasonable accommodations. The tenant is blind and suffers from PTSD and relies on assistance animals.

    The complaint alleged that the defendants ultimately rushed to court to seek an order to remove the tenant’s assistance animals rather than engage in an interactive dialogue as required by law, and therefore effectively denied the tenant’s request for a reasonable accommodation.

    Pursuant to a consent judgement filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the defendants have agreed to pay a total of $20,000, including $15,000 in damages to the tenant and $5,000 to the Commonwealth. An additional $5,000 will be suspended pending the defendants’ compliance with the terms of the settlement, which also require the defendants to institute a comprehensive fair housing and anti-discrimination policies and train staff on fair housing rights.
For more, see AG Healey Obtains Multiple Settlements in Fair Housing Cases on Behalf of Tenants With Disabilities (Properties Located in Worcester, Roxbury, and East Wareham; Settlements Secure $155,000 in Restitution for Tenants, Penalties and Funding for Educational Programs).

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