A Citizen, Pro Se

Landlord’s ‘Pattern and Practice’ of Discrimination

The Respondent (HUD Project-based Section 8 Landlord, Multifamily Housing) attempted to substitute a second, less-egregious version of a Service Animal contract for one of the two contracts he tried to coerce me into signing with the threat of immediate eviction.  This attempt merely substituted one discriminatory contract for another.  However, in his cover letter he made a direct statement that the property owners had what the law calls a ‘pattern and practice’ of requiring two Service Animal contracts (in addition to the lease) from all tenants with service animals.  (‘Service animals’ are defined as belonging to disabled people, and are considered as ‘medical auxiliary equipment,’ like wheelchairs or oxygen tanks.) 

In my response to the Landlord’s letter, I point to his ‘pattern and practice’ of discrimination against a sub-group (or ‘Class’) of disabled tenants.  ‘Pattern and practice’ cases, according to Federal law, are supposed to be referred to the Department of Justice (if HUD is investigating the case) or to the state’s Attorney General (if a FHAP agency is investigating).  ICRC has ignored the whole issue of ‘pattern and practice’ in this case, even though they are aware that the Respondent (as of Nov 2007) owned and/or managed over 2000 units in Indiana and Illinois.

 

MEMORANDUM

TO: [Anne E.’s attorney], Indiana Legal Services Inc.
FROM: ‘Anne E. Citizen’
DATE: June 17 2007

RE: ‘Anne E. Citizen’ vs Henderson Court Apartments
ICRC No: HOha07040187 — DATE FILED: 04/18/07
HUD Fair Housing Act Case No: 05-07-0776-8 — DATE FILED 04/17/07
HUD Section 504 Case No: 05-07-0106-4
HUD Inquiry No: 229400

SUBJECT: Reply to Mr Townsend’s June 7 2007 letter
‘Conditions of Residency’ Imposed on Tenants with Service Animals

Thank you for forwarding Mr. Townsend’s very forthcoming letter dated June 7 2007. I am glad to see that Mr. Townsend recognizes my right to my service animal. Although I am troubled by the careless management evident in Mr. Townsend’s description of the circumstances under which I “inadvertently” received an “obsolete” agreement (i.e., the 5-page Policy received on March 19), I will not address those issues in this memo. Instead, I will focus on Sheehan Property Management’s apparent practice of imposing ‘conditions on residency’ on tenants with service animals.

Writing in his capacity as President of Sheehan Property Management (and thus as Management Agent for Henderson Court, LP), Mr. Townsend writes:

“. . .we require all residents with service animals to sign both a Service Animal Agreement and a Service Animal Permit . . .”

I believe that this statement makes it clear that Sheehan Property Management and Henderson Court LP are imposing ‘conditions on residency’ for tenants with service animals. Mr Townsend’s statement suggests that both companies are engaged in “a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment” of their disabled tenants’ right to the reasonable accommodation of a service animal.

‘Residents with service animals’ are, by definition, disabled residents who require the particular reasonable accommodation of a service animal. A tenant (or potential tenant) whose disability requires the specific reasonable accommodation of a service animal is required, as a condition of residency, to sign two contracts in addition to the lease. These additional contracts are not required of able-bodied tenants, or of disabled tenants who do not require service animals. It seems to me inherently discriminatory that a sub-group of disabled tenants is required, as a condition of residency, to sign additional contracts solely because they require a specific reasonable accommodation.

In May 2004, HUD and the Department of Justice released a Joint Statement on Reasonable Accommodations Under The Fair Housing Act (HUD/DOJ 2004), which “provides technical assistance regarding the rights and obligations of persons with disabilities and housing providers under the Act relating to reasonable accommodations.” HUD/DOJ 2004 states:

The [Fair Housing] Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating against applicants or residents because of their disability . . . and from treating persons with disabilities less favorably than others because of their disability. The Act also makes it unlawful for any person to refuse “to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford … person(s) [with disabilities] equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.” The Act also prohibits housing providers from refusing residency to persons with disabilities, or placing conditions on their residency, because those persons may require reasonable accommodations.

The March 19 2007 letter that I received along with the 5-page Service Animal Policy makes it clear that Henderson Court considers a tenant’s refusal to sign the Policy and the Permit “a default permitting termination of the Lease Agreement.” When I was presented with the 5-page Policy in July 2006, Henderson Court’s manager refused to process my HUD recertification unless I signed, and repeatedly threatened me with eviction for refusing to sign. It is very clear to me that, in my case, Henderson Court acted as though it had the right to refuse me residency unless I accepted the ‘conditions of residency’ they wished to impose because I require the specific reasonable accommodation of a service animal.

In my opinion, Mr. Townsend’s statement that “. . .we require all residents with service animals to sign both a Service Animal Agreement and a Service Animal Permit . . ..” transforms the discrimination I have experienced into an issue of general public importance. According to its website (www.sheehanpm.com), Sheehan Property Management currently manages eleven properties, with a total of 1653 housing units — and they are actively seeking new clients. Some of these properties, like Henderson Court, are HUD project-based Section 8 housing, and thus are governed by HUD rules. However, all of SheehanPM’s client properties are governed by the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits the imposition of ‘conditions of residency’ on disabled tenants who require a reasonable accommodation. [Anne E.’s note, Apr 16 08: As of Nov 07, SPM owned and/or managed over 2000 units in 13 properties in two states, per their website.]

My personal experience, along with Mr. Townsend’s statement that “. . .we require all residents with service animals to sign both a Service Animal Agreement and a Service Animal Permit . . ..” convinces me that all current and future tenants who require a service animal as a reasonable accommodation will run the risk of being forced to submit to prohibited ‘conditions of residency’. Those who object to the ‘conditions of residency’ run the risk of being denied housing or of being threatened with eviction. In the interest of protecting the civil rights of current and future disabled tenants, I hope that ICRC will investigate Sheehan Propery Managment’s apparent ‘pattern and practice’ of imposing ‘conditions of residency’ on tenants with service animals.

Please forward this memo, along with a copy of (1) Mr. Townsend’s June 7 2007 letter and (2) Henderson Court’s March 19 2007 letter, to Mr. Johnson at ICRC for inclusion in my case file.

Thank you again for all your assistance in this case.

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2 Comments »

  1. I admire your perseverance, fight and logical intellect. I am being subjected to a similar situation as you. I cannot get the HUD FHEO Division; Region IV, to amend my timely filed, November 9, 2005, Fair Housing Discrimination Complaint. The complaint is based on retaliation under Section 504, denied the benefits of… A conspiracy, between the Landlord and a Senior HUD Contract Administrator, was orchestrated to subvert a Superior Court Jury Verdict that denied the Landlord possession of my Section 811 apartment. In time, the Landlord and the Senior HUD Contract Administrator terminated my housing subsidy in violation of (please see) HUD Directive, 4350.3, Chapter 8, Paragraph 8-4. Two weeks before my housing subsidy was terminated the Management instituted an addendum to the Section 811 HUD Model Lease Agreement that authorized them to terminate housing subsidies, etc. This action violated four out of nine of the HUD Model Lease Regulations that HUD does not permit change to. I need help to add the Senior HUD Contract Administrator to the complaint filed as an added Respondent. Do you have any recommendation for me?

    Comment by Willie G. Citizen — June 16, 2008 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

  2. Not that I’m impressed a lot, but this is a lot more than I expected for when I stumpled upon a link on Digg telling that the info here is awesome. Thanks.

    Comment by Random T. — April 22, 2009 @ 2:40 am | Reply


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