Las Vegas Developer Pays $350,000 to Settle
Fair Housing Lawsuit with Justice Department
Las Vegas, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada and the Justice Department today reached an agreement with the developer, builder, engineer, and architect who designed and constructed the Raintree Village Condominiums in Las Vegas, Nevada, to make the complex accessible to persons with disabilities. As part of the agreement the developer will pay $350,000 to retrofit the condominium complex to bring it into compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act and to compensate persons who have been harmed by the lack of accessible features at the complex.
"The failure to make housing accessible when built has a devastating impact on people who need accessible housing, and the need for accessible housing will become even more pronounced as the number of elderly persons in this country increases" said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "This agreement will help ensure that residents at Raintree Village will not be forced to relocate should they develop a disability."
In a consent decree filed simultaneously with a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Raintree Associates Ltd. Partnership, Falcon Construction Services, J. Lamont Langworthy, and Falcon Engineering Services agreed to resolve allegations that they had violated the federal Fair Housing Act by failing to design and construct Raintree Village Condominiums with the accessibility requirements of the Act. The consent decree must still be approved by the court.
In its complaint, also filed today, the Justice Department alleged that, as designed and constructed, the common areas at Raintree Village did not comply with the accessibility requirements and that many of the individual dwelling units on the ground floor were inaccessible to persons using wheelchairs because, among other things, the doors were too narrow to allow persons with wheelchairs to pass through the unit and some of the kitchens and bathrooms did not provide the required maneuvering space for persons who use wheelchairs.
The Consent Decree requires the defendants to pay $280,000 into a fund that will be used to modify the common areas and to modify the ground floor condominium units at the request of current owners at no expense. Current owners who elect to have their units made accessible will receive a $1000 incentive payment to compensate them for the inconvenience of having work done to their unit. The Decree also provides for the payment of $70,000 to eight households for the individuals who were harmed by the lack of accessible features at the complex.
"Ensuring greater access for people with disabilities is a priority with this Administration," said Kenneth Marcus, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for HUD's office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "This settlement sends a clear message that we will vigorously enforce the law to ensure fair housing for people with disabilities."
Under the Fair Housing Act, apartment complexes and condominiums with four or more units must include accessible common amenities such as parking, walkways, pools, and clubhouses; the ground-floor units in such multifamily housing must also include doors wide enough to accommodate persons who use wheelchairs, bathroom walls that have reinforcements for the installation of grab bars, and bathrooms and kitchens that are large enough for people who use wheelchairs to maneuver within them.
This case was based on a complaint originally filed with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by the Disabled Rights Action Committee, a Utah based disability-rights organization that works on disability issues in Utah and Nevada. HUD referred the complaints to the Justice Department, which conducted an investigation and determined that the properties did not comply with the Fair Housing Act.
Persons who believe that their apartment complex or condominium development was not designed or constructed in accordance with the Fair Housing Act, or who believe that they have been otherwise discriminated against on the basis of disability, may contact the Department of Justice at 1-800-896-7743, or the Department of Housing of Urban Development (HUD) at 1-800-669-9777 or at www.hud.gov/fhe. Additional information about the accessibility requirements of the Act is available on HUD's website at www.hud.gov/fhe/fheacss.html.