FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
TUESDAY, JULY 30, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
LAS VEGAS DEVELOPER PAYS $390,000 TO SETTLE
FAIR HOUSING LAWSUIT WITH JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The developers and builder of Serenade Condominiums in Henderson, Nevada have agreed to pay $390,000 to make the complex accessible to persons with disabilities and to compensate persons who have been harmed by the lack of accessible features at the complex, the Justice Department announced today.
“People with disabilities too often find themselves unable to live in many communities because they cannot find accessible housing,” said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “The Department is committed to assuring that the requirements of the Fair Housing Act are enforced so that persons with disabilities will be able to live in homes of their choice."
The complaint, filed today with the proposed consent decree in the United States District Court in Las Vegas, names as defendants Falcon Development Corp., Falcon Homes, Inc., Falcon Construction Services, Inc., and Frey Associates Limited Partnership, all of whom were responsible for the design and construction of the complex.
The complaint alleged that, as designed and constructed, Serenade Condominiums is not accessible to persons with disabilities because, among other things, the common and public use areas are not accessible to persons with disabilities, there is no accessible route into the dwellings, the doors in the units are too narrow to allow persons with wheelchairs to pass through the unit, and there are no reinforcements in bathroom walls so that grab bars can be safely installed.
Under the Fair Housing Act, apartment complexes and condominiums with four or more units that are built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, must include accessible common and public use areas such as parking, walkways, rental or sales offices, recreational areas, and clubhouses. In addition, the ground-floor units in non-elevator buildings in such housing must also include accessible routes into and through the dwelling, doors wide enough to accommodate persons who use wheelchairs, outlets and environmental controls at accessible heights, bathroom walls that have reinforcements for the installation of grab bars, as well as bathrooms and kitchens that are large enough for people who use wheelchairs to maneuver within them. In buildings with elevators, all of the units must contain these features.
Under the consent decree, which must still be approved by the court, the defendants will pay $330,000 into a fund that will be used to modify the common and public use areas at Serenade Condominiums to make them accessible to persons with disabilities and will also be used to make the ground floor condominium units accessible at the request of current owners at no expense.
The decree also provides for the payment of $60,000 to individuals in eight households who were harmed by the lack of accessible features at the complex. The agreement also requires the defendants take measures to ensure that all future housing that they design and construct complies with the Fair Housing Act.
This case began when the Disabled Rights Action Committee, a Utah-based disability rights organization that works on disability issues in Utah and Nevada, filed a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD referred the complaints to the Justice Department, which conducted an investigation and determined that the property 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. <http://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. <http://www.hud.gov>