The Justice Department announced today that the U.S. District Court of Nevada has approved a settlement in which the owners and operators of Rosewood Park Apartments, a 902 unit apartment complex in Reno, Nev., will pay $167,000 to resolve a lawsuit alleging discrimination against persons with disabilities who use assistance animals.
Under the agreement, the defendants in United States v. Rosewood Park LLC et al., will pay a total of $127,500 to a family that was not allowed to move into the complex because one of the members of the household used an assistance animal and to the Silver State Fair Housing Council, a non-profit Nevada organization that assisted the family and conducted testing to investigate the rental practices at Rosewood Park. The defendants will also pay an additional $25,000 to compensate any other persons harmed by the defendants’ discriminatory policies, who are identified through a process established by the agreement, and will pay $15,000 to the government in civil penalties. The agreement also requires that defendants adopt and maintain a new policy regarding assistance animals, provide non-discrimination training to their employees and agree to record keeping and monitoring requirements for the terms of the agreement. The agreement has been approved by the U.S. District Court of Nevada, and takes the form of a consent order that can be enforced by the court.
The department’s complaint had alleged that the owners, employees and management company of Rosewood Park Apartments violated the Fair Housing Act by limiting individuals with certain assistance animals to a particular section of Rosewood Park Apartments; subjecting such individuals to pet fees; requiring assistance animals to be licensed or certified; and barring companion or uncertified service dogs altogether. The case began when a family that had sought housing at Rosewood Park and the Silver State Fair Housing Council filed complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD investigated the complaint, issued a charge of discrimination and referred the matter to the Department of Justice.
“The Fair Housing Act ensures that persons with disabilities searching for a home are protected from discrimination,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously protect the civil rights of persons with disabilities in Nevada and across the country.”
“Persons who think they have been discriminated against in housing issues should not hesitate to file a report with HUD,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, as part of the U.S. Department of Justice, works with HUD to ensure that companies that are treating disabled persons unfairly are punished, and that they adopt policies to prevent further discrimination.”
“Assistance animals play a vital role in helping people with disabilities conduct everyday activities and fully enjoy their homes,” said Bryan Greene, HUD's Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD and DOJ will continue to enforce the Fair Housing Act's protections and ensure that housing providers do not illegally limit assistance animals.”
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability.
More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt/ . Persons who believe they have experienced or witnessed unlawful housing discrimination may call the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777. More information about the Fair Housing Act can also be found at hwww.justice.gov/crt/housing/ or www.hud.gov/fairhousing .