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United States Files Suit Against Long Island Housing Complex for Fair Housing Act Violations

September 10, 2009

BROOKLYN, NY – Benton J. Campbell, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, today announced the filing of a federal civil complaint against Sunrise Villas, LLC, its manager, and assistant manager for violations of the Fair Housing Act. Sunrise Villas, LLC is the owner and operator of the Sunrise Villas apartment complex located at Leonard Court in Lindenhurst, New York. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Under the Act, buildings are required to make reasonable accommodation and cannot refuse to rent to or make apartments unavailable to persons with disabilities because of those disabilities.

According to the government’s complaint, the defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of refusing to rent apartments to individuals who require the use of service animals. As alleged, on three separate occasions, testers employed by Long Island Housing Services, a fair housing advocacy group located in Bohemia, New York, represented that they sought to rent apartments at Sunrise Villas for individuals who required service animals. On each occasion, the testers were told that the development had a strict “no-pets” rule, and that the complex would not rent to individuals with service animals.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief requiring the defendants to bring its practices into compliance with the Fair Housing Act, damages to compensate persons harmed by these discriminatory practices, and civil penalties.

“Persons with disabilities are entitled to the protections of the Fair Housing Act. This includes the right of individuals who require service animals to be able to rent apartments in the same manner as individuals without disabilities,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “Apartment buildings that discriminate against or fail to reasonably accommodate disabled individuals will be held accountable for failing to comply with the law.”

The government’s case is being litigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Horan Florio.

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