Firm accused of discriminating against people with disabilities
SAN DIEGO — A San Diego property management company has agreed to pay a $22,600 settlement after it was accused of discriminating against people with disabilities.
HKT Cal, Inc. allegedly discriminated against disabled people who rely on service animals by denying them the ability to rent, made them comply with different terms and conditions, and did not provide reasonable accommodations to assist with their disability, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,
HUD said that housing companies have to reasonably accommodate people with disabilities, including waiving no pet policies for assistance or service animals.
“Requiring the use of an assistance or service animal shouldn’t keep a person from qualifying for housing that meets their needs,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
HKT Cal’s attorney said that his client did not violate any policies.
“The respondents who answered this complaint do not discriminate against the disabled or anyone else,” attorney Stephen Modafferi said. Many of his clients take courses to make sure they are versed in anti-discrimination policies in order to make sure they comply with regulations, he said.
The $22,600 payment will go to the San Francisco-based Housing Equality Law Project, an organization that works on fair housing cases. HELP conducted an investigation of HKT Cal from July 2013 to April 2014 and subsequently made a housing discrimination complaint to HUD.
The complaint accused the property manager of violating parts of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, a regulation that makes it illegal for property owners who don’t rent or sell a property to another on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex or nation of origin. It was amended in 1998 to also forbid discrimination on disability or familial status.
HUD said the complaint was based on issues at several apartment complexes HKT Cal managed in San Diego and Spring Valley. It’s unclear what specific properties were tied to the alleged discrimination.
Besides paying the penalty, the property manager will provide its employees training on fair housing regulations.
The settlement was not an admission that the property manager violated any regulations. The settlement was made voluntarily, terms of the agreement say.
HUD said that 55 percent of the complaints it received in fiscal 2015 were disability-related.
Source: San Diego Union Tribune