Special to The Truth
In a significant development, a housing discrimination lawsuit accusing Beal Properties, LLC, and Tetherwood Place, LLC of discrimination on the basis of disability has been settled. The Fair Housing Center, which initiated the legal action, has announced that a settlement agreement was reached on June 30, 2023, effectively bringing the case to a close.
After the Ohio Civil Rights Commission’s investigation found probable cause that discrimination occurred, the Plaintiffs filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Western Division. The lawsuit alleges that the Defendants denied reasonable accommodation requests and subjected the Plaintiff to different rental terms and conditions due to their disability. The Fair Housing Center claimed that Beal Properties and Tetherwood Place violated the Federal Fair Housing Act “FHA” and the Fair Housing Laws of the State of Ohio.
The core allegations revolved around the Defendants’ failure to address air quality issues and odors that exacerbated the Plaintiff’s breathing impairments. Additionally, the lawsuit accused the Defendants of failing to amend their lease break policy to accommodate the Plaintiff adequately, neglecting to engage in an interactive process, and providing no valid reasons for denying the accommodation request.
Upon reaching the settlement agreement, the complainant agreed to dismiss her fair housing claim, and in return, the Defendants, Beal Properties and Tetherwood Place agreed to take several corrective actions despite not admitting any wrongdoing. As part of the settlement, the Defendants will pay the Plaintiffs $12,500 in compensation for the harm caused. Furthermore, Defendants created and adopted a reasonable accommodation policy to ensure individuals with disabilities are treated fairly and equitably.
To further address the issue of discrimination, the Defendants will also participate in comprehensive fair housing training. This step aims to enhance awareness and understanding of fair housing laws and provide the necessary knowledge to ensure compliance in future rental practices.
“The Fair Housing Act ensures equal access to housing for persons with disabilities,” said George Thomas, CEO and General Counsel for The Fair Housing Center. “That means housing providers must make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities to give them an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. Our goal is to ensure that persons with disabilities understand their rights and housing providers take accommodation requests seriously.”
George Thomas, Esq. and Rachael Fortlage, Esq., of Fair Housing Opportunities of Northwest Ohio, along with Jacob Davis, Esq., of Nalls Davis | Attorneys at Law, represented the Plaintiff throughout the legal process.
With the settlement agreement now in place, the case is officially closed, and it marks a significant step toward promoting fair and equal housing opportunities for all. The impact of this settlement extends to one individual, and the resolution serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding the principles of fair housing laws.
Both the Fair Housing Center and Nalls Davis | Attorneys at Law are optimistic that this settlement will set a precedent and encourage property owners and managers to be proactive in addressing accommodation requests, ensuring fair treatment for all individuals, regardless of disability.