An administrative law judge for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has slapped a landlord in Detroit Lakes, Minn., with $44,000 in fines for refusing to rent an apartment to a woman and her roommate because of their disabilities.
Property manager Deane Woodard originally agreed to rent a Detroit Lakes house to a woman and her roommate, but when they arrived to move in, he told them they could not rent the house because the owner “did not want a bipolar in the house.” Woodard violated the Fair Housing Act and was ordered to pay $27,000 to one of the women, along with a $16,000 civil penalty and $1,000 in other court sanctions.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of a dwelling on the basis of disability. Housing providers may not refuse to rent to people with disabilities.
“Refusing to rent to someone simply because they have a disability is not only wrong, it’s illegal,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “This order sends a clear message to housing providers that HUD remains committed to ensuring that they abide by the nation’s fair housing laws.”
Woodard was charged in August. He was ordered to take fair housing training.
Disability remains the most common basis of housing discrimination complaints filed with HUD. Last year, HUD received 4,548 disability-related complaints.
People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 1-800-669-9777 (voice) or 1-800-927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints also may be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing or by downloading HUD’s free housing-discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed with Apple and Android devices.