HUD Approves Discrimination Agreement Between California Fair Housing Group and Marin County Landlords

HUD announced an agreement between a Northern California fair housing organization and the owners and managers of two apartment complexes in Greenbrae, California. The agreement resolves allegations the owners and their agents discriminated against a female tenant with disabilities who requires an assistance animal.

The case came to HUD’s attention when the group Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California filed a complaint alleging that the owner of the properties (Shultz Investment Co.), representatives of its management company (Greenbrae Management, Inc.) and its leasing agents discriminated against a resident who has a medical condition and requires a service dog.  The animal alerts her when she is experiencing physiological changes and helps to ameliorate many of her disability-related symptoms.

The fair housing group also claimed the woman, who had lived at the property for more than 15 years, was subjected to discriminatory statements and retaliation due to the presence of her assistance animal, including false accusations that the animal was disruptive, that it bit maintenance workers, and that it was not a service animal under California law. The woman’s Housing Assistance Program voucher was ultimately cancelled, forcing her to find housing elsewhere.

A subsequent HUD investigation corroborated the woman’s need for the dog and discovered written discriminatory statements made by the property managers.  HUD  found no evidence indicating that the animal was disruptive or had bitten anyone.

Under the Conciliation Agreement, the respondents will pay the woman $31,000; pay Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California $41,000; and develop and implement a reasonable accommodation and reasonable modification policy consistent with the Fair Housing Act. The owners will also revise their standard lease to be consistent with the new accommodations policy; send a letter to current tenants notifying them of the new policy; and obtain fair housing training.  CLICK HERE to read the Conciliation Agreement.