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NM Landlord Discriminated Against Disabled Tenant

NM Landlord Discriminated Against Disabled Tenant

On October 2, 2012, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) stated a New Mexico landlord in Albuquerque is being charged for violating the Fair Housing Act.  The charges result from the landlord refusing to let the disabled tenant make modifications to the rental property in order to use a wheelchair.  

The tenant stated they would pay all costs for making the modifications, hire licensed contractors, and even return to the property to its original condition once moving out in the future.  The landlord still refused.  

According to HUD, the Fair Housing Act lets a disabled tenant make reasonable accommodations to the rental property.  The Act also prohibits the landlord from refusing to make reasonable changes to the policies and services within the lease contract.  According to Mark Brezina, a HUD Regional Administrator, “At some point, a person with disabilities may need to make a modification to his or her home to make it livable.  The Fair Housing Act says that is the modification is reasonable and the person is willing to pay for it, a landlord can’t deny it.”

According to HUD, the tenant did not have a disability when they first moved in.  The tenant developed a serious medical condition, and he wrote a letter to the landlord asking if he could install and make other modifications as well.  The landlord approved the ramp but denied the removal of a shower door as well as the installation of a higher toilet and lower sink.  

The tenant then renewed his request, but the landlord quickly denied renewal of the tenant’s lease.  He then terminated the tenant’s lease.  A hearing is set to occur as a result of the landlord’s actions.  If the landlord is found guilty, they judge may award damages and other relief to deter any discrimination in the future.  The judge can also award impose civil penalties, payment of attorney’s fees, and punitive damages.  

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development