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Recent Fair Housing Rulings: Going to the Dogs

Maintaining a clear understanding of Fair Housing Law and related cases is essential for active real estate agents, landlords, and property managers.

Reasonable Accommodations Case

Arnal v. Aspen View Condo. Ass’n, et al. (D. Colo.)

The court denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment in Arnal v. Aspen View Condo. Ass’n (D. Colo.), a lawsuit alleging discrimination on the basis of disability and retaliation under the Fair Housing Act.  The plaintiff, the owner of a condominium unit, alleges that his condominium association improperly denied a reasonable accommodation to its “no dogs” policy to allow his tenant to keep a service dog that assisted her with her epilepsy, and that the condo association retaliated against him for allowing the tenant to keep the dog by issuing fines. The United States had filed a statement of interest, arguing that a plaintiff may maintain a retaliation claim even in the absence of an underlying discrimination claim and that evidence that defendants imposed fines on a unit owner for allowing a tenant the requested accommodation supported a prima facie case of retaliation under the Fair Housing Act.

The court ruled, consistent with the statement of interest, that plaintiff’s retaliation claim was not dependent upon his reasonable accommodation claim and that a reasonable jury could conclude that the fines were imposed in retaliation for allowing his tenant to live in the condo unit with her dog and assisting his tenant in exercising her fair housing rights.

Assistance Animal Case

Calvillo, et al. v. Baywood Equities, L.P., et al.

The United States entered into a settlement agreement to resolve the HUD election referral, Calvillo, et al. v. Baywood Equities, L.P., et al.  The parties to the agreement are the United States, complainants (a family residing at Baywood Apartments in Petaluma, California), and respondents (the owners and managers of Baywood Apartments).  The settlement agreement resolves allegations that the respondents discriminated against the complainants on the basis of disability when they denied the complainants’ request for a reasonable accommodation for an emotional support animal.  The complainants further alleged that the respondents made intimidating statements and interfered with their right to request a reasonable accommodation.  The settlement agreement requires respondents to pay $32,500 to the complainants.  The agreement also includes the implementation of a reasonable accommodation policy, training, and reporting requirements.

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Originally Published February 19, 2024