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Landlords sued and fined for housing discrimination

A New York landlord must pay a $15,000 settlement after refusing to let a mentally ill tenant keep her emotional support dog in her apartment, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced.

This is an important issue for all landlords and homeowners across the country to keep on their radar. HUD regularly takes enforcement actions in situations involving discrimination against tenants.

For example, earlier last year, the agency filed charges of housing discrimination against a landlord in New Orleans after he posted an ad on Craigslist that said: “NO TEENAGERS PLEASE.” HUD also charged a New Jersey landlord who texted racial slurs and refused to rent to a black prospective tenant when she responded to a Craigslist ad.

In the New York case, a tenant in Syracuse contacted HUD’s local agency in 2016 after the managers of her building said she couldn’t keep her emotional support dog in her apartment. The dog helps the tenant with mental health problems, and the tenant provided medical documentation indicating that. However, the owners and their agents said they wouldn’t exempt her from their “no pets” policy.

Last year, HUD filed charges against Nolo Contendere LLC and Nolo Contendere LLC Trust, claiming that they violated the federal Fair Housing Act, which bars landlords from denying housing based on race, religion, sex, disability and familial status. The law also states that landlords must make “reasonable accommodations” for people with medical conditions.

“People who rely on assistance animals to maintain their independence shouldn’t have their right to housing accommodations unlawfully denied,” HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, Anna María Farías, said in the agency’s statement. “HUD will continue to ensure housing providers understand their rights and responsibilities under the law and take steps to meet those obligations.”

The landlords, in this case, agreed to pay the tenant $15,000 to settle the case. They also are required to attend fair housing training and adjust their policy to allow assistance animals.

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