Landlord Refuses to Rent to Disabled Tenant With Service Dog

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 A Real-Life Claim Situation Involving an ADA violation

A residential leasing agent was responsible for the solicitation, evaluation, and securing of tenants in a multi-unit residential apartment complex on behalf of its owners, a Limited Liability Company owned by brothers. Shortly after the marketing process began, the first applicant to view the property arrived with a service dog and immediately expressed interest in renting one of the available units. The agent had her complete an application, then arranged for a background check.

Even though the background check revealed the applicant had an excellent credit rating, the landlord refused to rent the apartment to her over concerns that the dog would damage the flooring or harm other tenants. The landlord instructed the agent to inform the applicant that her application was denied and that all units had been rented.

When the agent conveyed the intentions of the landlord, it was a clear violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended ("ADA").

The applicant sued the landlord and the agent, alleging they violated ADA laws when denied the opportunity to lease the property because of her physical disabilities. The ensuing evidence produced during the litigation's discovery phase disclosed that other units remained vacant for many months-evidence detrimental to the defense of the case for either the landlord or agent. After incurring thousands of dollars in legal fees, the case was settled for a relatively significant amount.

ADA violations have been brought against brokers who fail to do what's "readily achievable with reasonable effort and expense" to serve clients with disabilities. This also includes making sure your office is accessible to people with disabilities by providing ramps, curb breaks, and other considerations. Attending educational seminars on ADA and the Fair Housing Act, among others, will certainly help ensure adherence to laws when serving the public. It will help you better serve clients protected by these laws while providing a blueprint for identifying potential violations in marketing material and the instructions given by owners in the sale and leasing of housing.


Article reprinted with the permission of Pearl Insurance


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Schweller Properties
A. Meadows Real Estate - Oakley, CA
Donna, great post!!
Jul 08, 2011 05:14 AM #1
Elizabeth Arduain
The Diamond Group @ Keller Williams - Lubbock, TX
Lubbock Texas Real Estate

Donna, in this day and age it is sad to hear that there is still this kind of ignorance!

Jul 08, 2011 05:15 AM #2
Jeremy Wrenn
Wrenn Home Improvements - Wake Forest, NC
President, Wrenn Home Improvements

Donna, even I (with my limited knowledge) knew that rejecting someone based on a disability for housing is a big no-no!  I would venture to say the landlord and leasing agent figured that out.

Jul 08, 2011 05:16 AM #3
Tim Riddle
Tim Riddle Broker Associate,Marsha Hardin Real Estate - Azle, TX
SFR,TAHS, Azle ,Fort Worth Real Estate

Thats terrible and i sure hope that landlord got thier butt handed to them. They deserve to be punished harshly. To many people dont think about how handciapped people are desriminated against, even if its something small. My father was handicapped and i saw how people did him. One good thing he was a medical doctor so he didnt need a great deal of help with many things. But like handcapped parking spots he had to use, healthy people park in them right and left. Its sad to see how stupid and lazy some people are in that aspect. But they will learn

Jul 08, 2011 05:20 AM #4
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