WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement with the owner and managing agent of the Sulgrave Manor Apartments in Washington, D.C., resolving a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department alleging discrimination against persons with disabilities. According to the complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the defendants refused to rent an apartment to a visually-impaired man who used a guide dog.
"Persons who use service animals should not be refused an equal opportunity to find housing. Landlords must understand that they have a responsibility to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities," said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The federal government is vigilant about preventing discrimination against people with disabilities."
The Department conducted its investigation through the use of fair-housing testers—individuals who pose as renters for purposes of gathering information about possible discriminatory practices in the rental of apartments.
Under the agreement, the defendants will pay $25,000 to compensate victims of discrimination at Sulgrave Manor, pay a $20,000 civil penalty to the United States government, establish and follow non-discriminatory tenancy procedures, and undergo fair housing training. The agreement remains subject to court approval.
Through the President’s New Freedom Initiative, the Civil Rights Division is committed to providing greater access for Americans with disabilities. Since January 2001, the Division has filed 193 Fair Housing Act cases, including 93 based on disability.
Individuals who believe that they may have been the victim of housing discrimination at the Sulgrave Manor Apartments should call the Justice Department's Housing and Civil Enforcement Section at 1-800-896-7743. Anyone wishing to report other unlawful housing discrimination should also contact the Department of Justice or the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777. More information about reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing/jointstatement_ra.htm.