|HUD Region VI: 12-173
Patricia Campbell/Scott Hudman
(817) 978-5974/(713) 718-3107
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October 2, 2012
HUD CHARGES NEW MEXICO LANDLORD WITH DISCRIMINATION FOR DENYING DISABLED TENANT'S REQUEST TO MAKE RENTAL HOME ACCESSIBLE
ALBUQERQUE - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging an Albuquerque, NM, landlord with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow a tenant with disabilities to modify his rental home to enable the tenant to use a wheelchair, even though the tenant agreed to pay all costs associated with making the modifications. In requesting the modifications, the tenant informed the landlord that all of the work would be performed by licensed contractors and that if the landlord wished, he would pay to return the unit to its original condition.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from refusing to let tenants, at their own expense, make reasonable modifications to a rental property, as well as from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services.
"At some point, a person with disabilities may need to make a modification to his or her home to make it livable," said Mark Brezina, HUD Regional Administrator. "The Fair Housing Act says that if the modification is reasonable and the person is willing to pay for it, a landlord can't deny it."
According to HUD's charge, the tenant had no disability when he initially rented the home. After developing a serious medical condition that made it necessary for him to use a wheelchair, he wrote the landlord a letter asking if he could have a ramp installed and other modifications made. His request to install a ramp was granted, but other requests, including a request to remove a shower door, install a higher toilet and lower the kitchen sink, were denied.
When the tenant renewed his request to make the modifications the owner had denied, the owner allegedly withdrew a prior offer to renew the tenant's lease and terminated his tenancy because of his disability and in retaliation for his requests to make modifications.
The HUD Charge of Discrimination will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) unless a party to the Charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If the ALJ finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, the ALJ may award damages and order injunctive relief and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination. In addition, the ALJ may impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest and award attorney fees. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages to aggrieved persons.
HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate approximately 10,000 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice), (800) 927-9275 (TTY).
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on Twitter at @HUDnews or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's News Listserv.