On June 9, 2017, HUD entered approved a settlement agreement between a Nevada fair housing organization and the owner and manager of four apartment complexes in Reno, NV. The agreement settles allegations of housing discrimination against disabled residents with assistance animals.
The case came to HUD’s attention when the Silver State Fair Housing Council filed four complaints against the owner and manager of Silver Lake Apartments, Vale Townhomes, Oak Manor Apartments, and Angel Street Apartments. The complaints alleged that ERGS, Inc. and Silver Lake Apartments, LLC discriminated against prospective tenants who required assistance animals by requiring these applicants to pay a pet deposit fee.
Under the conciliation agreement, ERGS, Inc. will pay Silver State Fair Housing Council $20,500. ERGS, Inc., and Silver Lake Apartments, LLC will also adopt written policies that are consistent with the Fair Housing Act and provide fair housing training for all employees who interact with tenants or applicants.
This case reiterates the importance of understanding the difference between “pets” and “assistance animals.” While deposits for pets may be required, there is no authority to charge a fee or deposit of any kind for a disabled person needing an assistance animal. Owners and managers should review their policies and procedures to ensure that disabled residents are not facing monetary requirements relative to assistance animals.