HUD: Owner Wrongly Denied Resident's Request for Accessible Parking Space
HUD is charging the owner of a Wisconsin apartment complex and its management company with discrimination for denying an accessible parking space to a resident who has difficulty walking and has braces on both legs.
According to the charge, the resident had an accessible parking placard when he moved into the building. He immediately began parking in a designated “handicap accessible” space closest to the entrance. Shortly thereafter, site management informed the resident that he could not park in that space because it serves as a pick-up and drop-off area for residents who do not drive. With HUD's encouragement, the resident renewed his request, but management responded: “That's how we do things.”
The resident began parking in a space far from the entrance, causing him severe pain. In one instance, he slipped and fell on ice, causing an injury that required emergency medical attention. Not wanting to face another winter without accessible parking, the resident moved.
If the U.S. administrative law judge (ALJ) finds that discrimination occurred, he or she may award damages and order injunctive relieve and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination. In addition, the ALJ may impose civil penalties and attorney's fees upon the owner and management company. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages to the resident.
“Landlords cannot be indifferent to or deny reasonable accommodation requests of tenants with disabilities,” says John Trasviña, HUD assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Here, the denial resulted in injury. HUD will vigorously enforce legal protections that provide access for people with disabilities.”