☷HUD CHARGES PUERTO RICO PROPERTY OWNERS AND REAL ESTATE AGENT WITH DISCRIMINATING AGAINST PERSON WITH DISABILITIES
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ( By Press Release office)
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WASHINGTON - The U . S . Department of Housing and Urban Development ( HUD ) announced today that it is charging Josefina Amparo De La Fuente - Mundo , Alicia De La Fuente - Mundo , and Rosalia De La Fuente - Mundo , owners and manager of an apartment building in San Juan , Puerto Rico , and Maria Trini Menendez , the real estate agent hired to rent a unit in the building , with housing discrimination for allegedly refusing to rent to a person with disabilities because she uses a service animal . Read HUD’s Charge . The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on disability . This includes refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules , policies , practices , or services , when necessary to allow a person with disabilities to use and enjoy their housing . Reasonable accommodations include a waiver of a “no pet” policy for service animals . “Service animals allow people with disabilities to perform life’s daily activities and maintain their independence , ” said Demetria L . McCain , HUD Principal Assistant Deputy Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity . “Today’s action demonstrates HUD’s ongoing commitment to take appropriate action when housing providers fail to comply with the Fair Housing Act . ”“Housing providers are required to allow people with disabilities the use of service animals that they need to fully enjoy their housing , ” said Damon Smith , HUD General Counsel . “HUD is committed to vigorously enforcing the Fair Housing Act to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities . ”HUD’s Charge of Discrimination alleges that the complainant , who is legally blind , attempted to rent a unit at the subject property for herself and her partner . During the tour of the property , the complainant told Ms . Menendez of her disability and of her need for a guide dog as a service animal . In response , Ms . Menendez told the complainant that she could not have a pet in the unit because the owners have a no pet policy at the subject property . According to the Charge , the complainant explained that refusing to permit a service animal could be grounds for a lawsuit and suggested that Ms . Menendez speak to the owner of the property . When Ms . Menendez raised the issue with Josefina De La Fuente - Mundo , Ms . De La Fuente - Mundo reiterated that pets are not permitted in the building . Ms . Menendez relayed this to the complainant and suggested other potential rentals . A United States Administrative Law Judge will hear HUD ' s Charge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court . If an administrative law judge finds , after a hearing , that discrimination has occurred , the judge may award damages to the complainant for the harm caused by the discrimination . The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief , to deter further discrimination , as well as payment of attorney’s fees . In addition , the judge may impose civil penalties to vindicate the public interest . If the matter is decided in federal court , the judge may also award punitive damages to the complainant . People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at ( 800 ) 669 - 9777 ( voice ) 800 - 927 - 9275 ( TTY ) . Additional information is available at www . hud . gov/fairhousing . Materials and assistance are available for persons with limited English proficiency . Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may contact the Department using the Federal Relay Service at ( 800 ) 877 - 8339 .
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