|HUD No. 15-061
May 26, 2015
HUD AND VIRGINIA LANDLORD SETTLE ALLEGATIONS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST TENANTS WITH DISABILITIES
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today an agreement with Roanoke, Virginia-based Retirement Unlimited, Inc. resolving allegations of discrimination against residents with disabilities in two of the company's rental properties. The settlement requires Retirement Unlimited to pay $167,500 in damages. Read HUD's agreement with Retirement Unlimited.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. This includes requiring persons with disabilities to pay additional security deposits or to buy liability insurance because they use motorized wheelchairs.
The case came to HUD's attention when two residents and Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), a non-profit fair housing organization based in Richmond, Virginia, filed complaints alleging that Retirement Unlimited required residents who use motorized wheelchairs or scooters to pay a $1,500 security deposit, acquire a minimum of $100,000 in liability insurance, and sign an agreement stating that approval of the motorized wheelchairs could be withdrawn if payments to maintain the required insurance policies were not made.
After receiving the complaints, HUD conducted an investigation and found that the policies were applied at other properties and to other residents.
"Persons with disabilities may not be required to pay extra fees or obtain liability insurance because they use motorized wheelchairs," said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "We're pleased that this company agrees to change its policies and practices so that it no longer discriminates against residents with disabilities."
Under the terms of the agreement, Retirement Unlimited will pay a total of $107,500 to the complainants and other aggrieved individuals. In addition, Retirement Unlimited will donate $30,000 to HOME to support advocacy for individuals with disabilities, and donate an additional $30,000 to a HUD-approved organization that promotes education and assistance to persons with disabilities in Virginia. Retirement Unlimited will also adopt a revised "Power Mobility Devices Policy" for its six properties in Virginia that prohibits residents who use such devices from being charged extra security deposits or being subjected to other forms of discrimination, and provide training to its employees about the new policy.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD's free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple devices, such as iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, as well as Android devices.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov.
You can also connect with HUD on social media and follow Secretary Castro on Twitter and Facebook or sign up for news alerts on HUD's Email List.