WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced a $115,000 consent decree settlement to resolve a lawsuit alleging that a Windsor Locks, Conn., landlord violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to grant a tenant’s requests for a reasonable accommodation.
The lawsuit, filed on Aug. 1, 2007, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, alleges that Mahmoud M. Hussein refused to grant a reasonable accommodation from his no-pets policy so that his tenant’s minor daughter could work with an assistance dog to help with her cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, and depression. The lawsuit further alleges that Hussein retaliated against the mother and daughter after they attempted to exercise their rights under the Fair Housing Act by refusing to renew their annual lease and beginning eviction proceedings. The tenant and her daughter filed a separate lawsuit that also will be resolved by the consent decree.
Under the consent decree, which is pending approval by the court, the defendant will pay $115,000 in monetary relief, including $102,000 to compensate the tenant and her daughter and $13,000 in attorneys fees. Additionally, the defendant will attend fair housing training; implement a reasonable accommodation policy; and comply with notice, monitoring and reporting requirements.
"In this case, a child with severe disabilities was denied an assistance animal," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "We are pleased that this settlement will compensate the child’s family and protect their housing rights."
The lawsuit arose as a result of a complaint filed by the tenant on behalf of herself and her daughter with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After an investigation of the complaint, HUD issued a charge of discrimination, and the complainant elected to have the case heard in federal court.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Since Jan. 1, 2001, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has filed 247 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 117 of which have alleged discrimination based on disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743), email the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.