Angela Jackson v Westside Apartments, LLC, Kassi Krause

10/14/2019
Document Text Content: 

PREDETERMINATION SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

 

CP# 05-19-73595

HUD# 07-19-2121-8

 

 

PARTIES TO THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

 

 

RESPONDENTS

 

WESTSIDE APARTMENTS, LLC

1326 Main Street

Osage, Iowa 50461

 

KASSI KRAUSE

Kittleson Contracting

1326 Main Street

Osage, Iowa 52241

 

 

COMPLAINANT

 

MS. ANGELA JACKSON

Iowa Civil Rights Commission

400 East 14th Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

 

and

 

IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION

400 East 14th Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

 

 

Description of the Parties: Complainant is a member of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (hereinafter referred to as the Commission).  As a member, Complainant has the authority to file a complaint alleging a discriminatory practice in violation of the “Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965,” Iowa Code Chapter 216. Complainant alleges discrimination in the area of housing on the basis of disability.   Complainant alleges Respondents failed to provide a reasonable accommodation by refusing to waive their “no-pets” policy for an assistance animal and this resulted in different terms, conditions or privileges of rental, and a denial of rental housing based on disability.  Respondents own and manage the subject property, a duplex located at 404 N 9th Street, Osage, Iowa 50461-1821.

 

Terms of Settlement: A complaint having been filed by Complainant against Respondents with the Commission under Iowa Code Chapter 216 and there having been a preliminary inquiry, the parties do hereby agree and settle the above-captioned matter in the following extent and manner:

 

Acknowledgment of Fair Housing Laws

 

1.         Respondents agree there shall be no discrimination, harassment, or retaliation of any kind against Complainant or any other person for filing a charge under the “Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965” (ICRA); or because of giving testimony or assistance, or participating in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing under the ICRA; or because of lawful opposition to any practice forbidden by the ICRA.  Iowa Code § 216.11(2).

 

2.         Respondents acknowledge the ICRA makes it unlawful to discriminate in the terms, conditions or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with the dwelling because of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability, or familial status. 

Iowa Code § 216.8(1)(b).

 

Respondents acknowledge that the Federal Fair Housing Act, as amended, makes it unlawful to discriminate in the terms, conditions or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin, or disability.

42 U.S.C. 3604(b), 3604(f)(2) (§ 804 of the Fair Housing Act).

 

3.         Respondents acknowledge the FHA and ICRA make it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when the accommodations are necessary to afford the person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling and to the extent that the accommodation does not cause undue financial or administrative burden or fundamentally alter the nature of the provider’s operations. 42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(3)(b) (§ 804(f)(3)(b) of the Fair Housing Act); Iowa Code § 216.8A(3)(c)(2).

 

4.         Respondents acknowledge the FHA and ICRA make it unlawful to discriminate against another person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with the dwelling because of a disability.

42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(2)(a) (§ 804(f)(2)(a) of the Fair Housing Act); Iowa Code § 216.8A(3)(b)(1).

 

5.         Respondents acknowledge their obligation under the FHA and ICRA to allow assistance animals as a reasonable accommodation when necessary to permit an individual with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. See Iowa Code §§ 216.8B, .8C.

 

Assistance animals are often referred to as service animals, emotional support animals, therapy animals, companion animals or support animals. Under the FHA and ICRA, an assistance animal is “not a pet. It is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person's disability. Assistance animals perform many disability-related functions, including but not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, providing protection or rescue assistance, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, alerting persons to impending seizures, or providing emotional support to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support.” Service Animals and Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHEO Notice: FHEO-2013-01, April 25, 2013, at 2; Iowa Code § 216.8B.

 

            After receiving a request, housing providers must consider the following:

 

(1) Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability (a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities)?

(2) Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal?  (afford a person with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy the dwelling).

 

A request for accommodation can be denied if the accommodation would impose an undue financial and administrative burden or if it would fundamentally alter the essential nature of the housing provider's services.  “The determination of undue financial and administrative burden must be made on a case-by-case basis involving various factors, such as the cost of the requested accommodation, the financial resources of the provider, the benefits that the accommodation would provide to the requester, and the availability of alternative accommodations that would effectively meet the requester's disability-related needs.” JointStatementoftheDepartmentofHousingandUrbanDevelopmentandtheDepartment  ofJustice,Reasonable AccommodationsUnderTheFairHousingAct,May17,2004, at 7.

 

“The request may also be denied if: (1) the specific assistance animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation, or (2) the specific assistance animal in question would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation. Breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal. A determination that an assistance animal poses a direct threat of harm to others or would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others must be based on an individualized assessment that relies on objective evidence about the specific animal's actual conduct — not on mere speculation or fear about the types of harm or damage an animal may cause and not on evidence about harm or damage that other animals have caused. Conditions and restrictions that housing providers apply to pets may not be applied to assistance animals.” FHEO-2013-01 at 3.

 

Respondents acknowledge they will consider each occupant or prospective occupant’s situation and accommodation request individually to determine if the requested accommodation is reasonable.  The parties acknowledge that if the disability is not known or obvious, Respondents may make a reasonable inquiry and request documentation from a health care provider that verifies the occupant/prospective occupant’s disability, without seeking or collecting information regarding the nature of the disability.  In addition, Respondents may make reasonable inquiry and request documentation from a health care provider that verifies the occupant or prospective occupant’s need for the accommodation, i.e., the relationship between the person’s disability and the need for the requested accommodation. 

 

Assistance animals cannot be subjected to monthly pet fees since they are not considered pets under the FHA and ICRA. Iowa Code § 216.8B(2). Housing providers cannot require special tags, equipment, certification or special identification of assistance animals.

 

Voluntary and Full Settlement

 

6.         The parties acknowledge this Predetermination Settlement Agreement is a voluntary and full settlement of the disputed complaint.  The parties affirm they have read and fully understand the terms set forth herein.  No party has been coerced, intimidated, threatened or in any way forced to become a party to this Agreement.

 

7.         The parties enter into this Agreement in a good faith effort to amicably resolve existing disputes.  The execution of this Agreement is not an admission of any wrongdoing or violation of law.  Nor is the execution of this Agreement an admission by Complainant that any claims asserted in her complaint are not fully meritorious.

 

8.         The parties agree the execution of this Agreement may be accomplished by separate counterpart executions of this Agreement.  The parties agree the original executed signature pages will be attached to the body of this Agreement to constitute one document.

 

9.         Respondents agree the Commission may review compliance with this Agreement.  And as part of such review, Respondents agree the Commission may examine witnesses, collect documents, or require written reports, all of which will be conducted in a reasonable manner by the Commission.  

 

Disclosure

 

10.       Because, pursuant to Iowa Code § 216.15A(2)(d), the Commission has not determined that disclosure is not necessary to further the purposes of the ICRA relating to unfair or discriminatory practices in housing or real estate, this Agreement is a public record and subject to public disclosure in accordance with Iowa’s Public Records Law, Iowa Code Chapter 22.  See Iowa Code § 22.13. 

 

Release

 

11.       Complainant hereby waives, releases, and covenants not to sue Respondents with respect to any matters which were, or might have been alleged as charges filed with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development, or any other anti-discrimination agency, subject to performance by Respondents of the promises and representations contained herein. Complainant agrees any complaint filed with any other anti-discrimination agency, including the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development, which involves the issues in this complaint, shall be closed as Satisfactorily Adjusted.

 

Fair Housing Training

 

12.       Kassi Krause and each of Respondents’ current employees or agents who are involved in the management or operation of residential rental properties will receive training on the requirements of State and Federal Fair Housing Laws within 90 days of their receipt of a Closing Letter from the Commission.  Respondents also agree all future employees or agents who are involved in the management or operation of residential rental properties will receive training on the requirements of State and Federal Fair Housing Laws within 30 days of their date of hire.  The training will include an overview of fair housing laws, but will emphasize the law regarding how to handle requests for reasonable accommodations from individuals with a disability.  The training shall be conducted by a qualified person, approved by the Commission or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 

Respondents also agree to send documentation to the Commission verifying the fair housing training has been completed within ten (10) days of completing the training.

 

New Policy and Practice

 

13.       For all residential rental properties owned and managed, now and in the future, Respondents agree, within thirty (30) days of the execution of this Settlement Agreement, to adopt and implement specific, uniform, and objective written standards,  procedures, and forms for receiving and handling requests made by people with disabilities for reasonable accommodation.  These standards shall comply with the requirements of Iowa Code Chapter 216 and 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.

 

Respondents agree within thirty (30) days of the execution of this Settlement Agreement to send documentation to the Commission detailing Respondents’ said procedures with a copy of their reasonable accommodation policy and applicable forms.

 

Within thirty (30) days of the execution of this Settlement Agreement, Respondents agree to make their reasonable accommodation policy and forms readily available at each of their property management office locations, in a conspicuous location easily viewable to tenants and prospective tenants.

 

Upon inquiry, Respondents shall inform all applicants and occupants that they may request reasonable accommodations of Respondents’ rules, policies, practices, and services.  Prior to lease execution, if prospective residents inquire about reasonable accommodations, Respondents shall inform them of their ability to seek reasonable accommodations and provide them a copy of their reasonable accommodation policy and forms.     

 

Respondents shall adopt a Reasonable Accommodation Policy and forms to implement the policy, using the following forms or forms substantially equivalent:

 

           Assistance Animals – Sample Policy

           Assistance Animals – Sample Guidelines

           Assistance Animals – Form A (Health Care Professional Form)

           Reasonable Accommodation—Sample Policy

           Reasonable Accommodation – Sample Request Form

 

These forms will be mailed or e-mailed to the parties. They are also available at:

https://icrc.iowa.gov/publications/sample-forms-and-policies

 

Upon adopting specific, uniform, and objective written standards and procedures for receiving and handling requests made by people with disabilities for reasonable accommodations, Respondents shall provide written notice of those standards, procedures and forms to each current and future resident who has requested an accommodation.   

 

Respondents shall respond to all reasonable accommodation requests in writing within five business days of receiving the request.   

 

Respondents shall keep written records of each request for reasonable accommodation.  These records shall include:

 

           Name, address, and telephone number of the person making the request;

           Date request received;

           Nature of request;

           Whether request granted or denied; and

           If denied, reason(s) for the denial.

 

Review of Tenant Files

 

14.       Respondents agree to review all current tenant files to determine whether their employees or agents appropriately handled past requests for reasonable accommodations in accordance with the requirements of Iowa Code Chapter 216 and 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.  If errors were made in the handling of past requests for reasonable accommodations, Respondents shall promptly correct those errors by notifying the affected residents, granting the requests for reasonable accommodations, and refunding any monies unlawfully collected for pet fees or deposits.

 

Within 90 days of the execution of this Settlement Agreement, Respondents shall submit a written report to the Commission, to the attention of Dean Meester, Compliance Monitor, stating: (1) the number of tenant files reviewed, (2) the name and job title of the person or persons who reviewed those files, (3) the date or dates those files were reviewed, (4) the number of errors found, and (5) the number of errors corrected.  For each error, Respondents shall include in its written report to the Commission the following information:

 

                          Name, address, and telephone number of affected resident;

                          Date of request for reasonable accommodation;

                          Nature of request;

                          Date affected resident notified of error; and

                          Nature of action taken to correct error.

 

Relief for Complainant

 

15.       Respondents agree to promote Fair Housing, by printing the Commission’s fair housing brochure, “Fair Housing and You,” and distributing the brochure to each of their rental units within 30 days of the execution of this Settlement Agreement.   Respondents agree to access the brochure on the Commission’s website at:

https://icrc.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/2019/IowaCivilRightsCommission_fair%20housing_PRINT_0.pdf

            Respondents also agree to send a statement to the Commission, within 30 days of the execution of this Settlement Agreement, verifying that the brochure was, in fact, distributed to each of their tenants with the number of rental units it was distributed to.

Reporting and Record-Keeping

16.       Respondents shall forward to the Commission objective evidence of the successful

            completion of fair housing training in the form of a Certificate or a letter from the entity conducting the training within ten (10) days of the completion of the training, as evidence of compliance with Term 12 of this Agreement.

 

17.       Within thirty (30) days of the execution of this Settlement Agreement, Respondents shall submit a written report to the Commission detailing Respondents’ reasonable accommodation procedures with a copy of their reasonable accommodation policy and applicable request forms, as objective evidence that Respondents have adopted and implemented specific, uniform, and objective written standards, procedures and said forms for receiving and handling requests made by people with disabilities for reasonable accommodation, as evidence of compliance with Term 13 of this Agreement.

 

19.       Within 90 days of the execution of this Settlement Agreement, Respondents shall submit a written report to the Commission, as objective evidence that all current tenant files have been reviewed to determine whether their employees or agents appropriately handled past requests for reasonable accommodations as evidence of compliance with Term 14 of this Agreement.

 

20.       Within 30 days of the execution of this Settlement Agreement, Respondents shall send a written statement to the Commission verifying the “Fair Housing and You” brochure has been distributed to all of their tenants, as evidence of compliance with Term 15 of this Agreement.

 

All required documentation of compliance must be submitted via email or U.S. Mail to:

 

Dean Meester

Iowa Civil Rights Commission

Grimes State Office Building

400 East 14th Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

dean.meester@iowa.gov 

Telephone: 515-281-3001

 

 

 

 

 

__________________________________________________        _____________

Westside Apartments, LLC, RESPONDENT                                     Date

 

 

__________________________________________________        _____________

Kassi Krause, RESPONDENT                                                           Date

 

 

__________________________________________________        ______________

Angela Jackson, COMPLAINANT                                                     Date

 

 

___________________________________________________      _____________

Linda Grathwohl, INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR                 Date

IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION