Fair Housing Lawsuit Filed Against Town

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scalesHere is another example of a recent Fair Housing Act lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”). I try to post case summaries in order to provide timely updates to real estate agents and brokers about the "dos and don'ts" under the Fair Housing Act, since fair housing is such an important issue.

Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, May 19, 2009), the DOJ filed a Fair Housing Act lawsuit against the town of Garner, North Carolina, and the town’s board of adjustment alleging that they violated the Fair Housing Act when they refused to allow up to eight men recovering from drug and alcohol addictions to live together as a reasonable accommodation for their disabilities.

The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants had engaged in a denial of rights to a group of persons or a pattern or practice of discrimination by failing or refusing to recognize their obligation to make reasonable accommodations. The home is chartered by Oxford House Inc., a non-profit organization that assists in the development of self-governing houses in which persons in recovery support one another’s determination to remain sober. The town of Garner permits up to six persons to live in the home, but has refused to consider requests by Oxford House to increase the number to eight.

The Fair Housing Act requires jurisdictions to make reasonable accommodations in their rules when necessary to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to housing. As a result, the DOJ believes that the town should have granted the request to allow eight people as a reasonable accommodation.

This case arose as a result of a complaint filed with HUD by Oxford House. HUD conducted an investigation and referred the matter to the DOJ.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for the victims, a civil penalty and a court order requiring Garner to grant the requested accommodation and establish a procedure for considering future accommodation requests. The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must still be proven in federal court.

I will try to follow this case and provide an update when the case is resolved.


To learn more about fair housing issues (and many other real estate topics), please visit us at www.123ConEd.com.  We are the leading online provider of Michigan real estate continuing education.  All of our courses are fully approved and properly certified by the State of Michigan, and are offered online.

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Michael A. Caruso
Surterre Properties - Laguna Niguel, CA

Thanks for the legal update Jason. It is important to stay on top of these things.

I hope you'll remember me if you learn of anyone moving to "The OC" and I will do the same!

Best regards.

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors           

May 20, 2009 06:25 AM #1
Michael J. Gallo
Florida Luxury Realty - New Port Richey, FL
Florida Luxury Realty - Gulf Home Sales Team

I am curious to know if the Home can reasonably accomidate 8 people or not and does the Americans with Disibilities Act cover Drug Addiction as a dissability or are they accused of discrimination of other people also?  If the home is not large enough to accomidate 8 people....that could be the problem right there.

Please keep us informed. 

May 20, 2009 06:29 AM #2
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

Thanks for the update.  I have a problem with drug addicts being a protected class.

May 20, 2009 07:14 AM #3
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