WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced that it filed a lawsuit today against Post Properties Inc., Post Apartment Homes L.P. and Post GP Holdings Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia for failing to provide accessible features required by the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act at multi-family housing developments in six states. The defendants’ principal place of business is in Atlanta.
Since March 13,1991, when the Fair Housing Act first required new multi family housing to contain accessible features, Post has designed, constructed and developed at least 50 multi family apartment complexes in Georgia, Texas, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia, according to the complaint. Nineteen of these properties are in the Atlanta region. All together, the properties constitute more than 17,000 units. At least half of the units have elevators that serve every unit, requiring that each unit comply with the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements. Post operates many of these properties as rentals.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. According to the complaint, Post designed and constructed many of the complexes without accessible routes leading into and through the apartment buildings. Many entranceways have steps and steep curb ramps making them inaccessible to a person using a wheelchair. In addition, certain housing units have narrow doors and hallways; kitchens and bathrooms that lack accessible clear floor space; and thermostats that are mounted too high to be accessible to a person using a wheelchair.
"Our federal laws guarantee that persons with mobility and other physical disabilities will have the same housing choices as persons without such disabilities," said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. "We will continue to pursue vigorously the principle that failing to design and construct multi-family housing with basic features of accessibility violates the law."
"Our office is committed to protecting the rights of citizens with disabilities and ensuring that they are fully integrated in our community, and have the housing choices that the law provides," said Sally Quillian Yates, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, who joins in bringing the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the defendants to modify the complexes to bring them into compliance with federal laws and prohibiting defendants from engaging in future discrimination. The lawsuit also seeks monetary damages to compensate victims and civil penalties to be paid to the government.
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743 ext. 91, or email the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must still be proven in federal court.