Anonymous v Barkalow, TSB Holdings, LLC, Big Ten Property Management, LLC

08/19/2020
Document Text Content: 

 

POSTDETERMINATION SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
 
CP# 01-18-71518
HUD# 07-18-83260-8
 
 
PARTIES TO THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
 
 
RESPONDENTS
 
TSB HOLDINGS, LLC
250 12TH Street, Ste. 150
Coralville, Iowa 52241-2912
 
BIG TEN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT LLC
250 12TH Street, Ste. 150
Coralville, Iowa 52241-2912
 
TRACY BARKALOW
250 12TH Street, Ste. 150
Coralville, Iowa 52241-2912
 
 
COMPLAINANT
 
[Redacted]
[Redacted]
[Redacted], [Redacted]
 
and
 
IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION
400 East 14th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
 
 
Description of the Parties: After investigation of Complainant’s civil rights complaint, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission found Complainant is a person with a disability who made a request for reasonable accommodation to Respondents in the form of a request for a waiver of a “no pets” policy to allow her to keep an assistance animal in her unit. Complainant lived in a property owned and managed by Respondents. The subject property is an apartment unit located at 505 Brookland Park Drive, in Iowa City, Iowa. Complainant alleged, and the Commission found, that, on November 10, 2017, she requested paperwork to waive the “no pets” provision in her lease for her assistance animal. Respondent Barkalow made the forms available on November 16, 2017 and Complainant returned them that same day. On November 30, 2017, Complainant went to Defendant Barkalow’s office to determine the status of her request. Defendant Barkalow stated he would not accept the forms because Complainant’s doctor had written a separate note supporting Complainant’s request rather than signing directly on the form. Although Complainant requested another copy of the form, Defendants never provided it. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission found Respondents’ unreasonable delay in processing Complainant’s request for reasonable accommodation and their refusal to waive their “no pets” policy for an assistance animal constitutes a failure to make a reasonable accommodation and has resulted in different terms and conditions of rental based on disability.
 
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 probable cause finding, 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) §.

 

 
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 also referred to as support animals or emotional support animals. Under the FHA and ICRA, “assistance animals are not pets. They are animals that do work, perform tasks, assist, and/or provide therapeutic emotional support for individuals with disabilities.” Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHEO Notice: FHEO-2020-01, January 28, 2020, at 3; Iowa Code § 216.8B.
 
Some examples of work, tasks, assistance or support provided by assistance animals include “[h]elping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors;  [r]eminding a person with mental illnesses to take prescribed medication, [t]aking action to calm a person with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, . . . [or] [p]roviding emotional support that alleviates at least one identified symptom or effect or a physical or mental impairment.” Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHEO Notice: FHEO-2020-01, January 28, 2020, at 19.
 
            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.” Joint Statement of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department  of Justice, Reasonable Accommodations Under The Fair Housing Act, May 17, 2004, at 7.
 
The request may also be denied if “the specific animal poses a direct threat that cannot be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level through actions the individual takes to maintain or control the animal (e.g., keeping the animal in a secure enclosure).” Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHEO Notice: FHEO-2020-01, January 28, 2020, at 14.
 
Housing providers may not limit the breed or size of a dog used as a service animal or support animal just because of the size or breed, but can limit based on specific issues with the animal’s conduct because it poses a direct threat or a fundamental alteration. Id.
 
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 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.  By executing this Agreement, Respondents do not admit that they engaged in wrongdoing or violated any 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, that for a period of two years after the date on the Commission’s Closing Letter, the Commission may review compliance with this Agreement.  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.
 
12.       The Iowa Civil Rights Commission agrees to dismiss with prejudice Johnson County District Court case number CVCV080396, Iowa Civil Rights Commission ex rel A.W. v. Tracy Barkalow, Big Ten Property Management, LLC, and TSB Holdings, LLC.
 
Relief in the Public Interest
 
13.       Respondents TSB Holdings, LLC, Big Ten Property Management LLC, and Tracy Barkalow agree to include hyperlinks to their Reasonable Accommodation Request Form and Request for Assistance Animal in Housing Health Care Professional Form on the Big Ten Rentals website in the location designated in Attachment A. The linked forms are included in Attachment B. Respondents agree the hyperlinks will be posted within ten (10) days of the date on the Commission’s Closing Letter.
 
14.       Tracy Barkalow and any of Respondent TSB Holdings Inc.’s or Respondent Big Ten Property Management LLC’s employees who are involved in the management or operation of residential properties will receive training on the recent changes to the Iowa Civil Rights Act codified as Iowa Code sections 216.8B and 216.8C, as well as their responsibilities towards tenants or prospective tenants with disabilities seeking assistance animals as a reasonable accommodation under the Iowa Civil Rights Act and Fair Housing Act. The training materials must be reviewed and approved by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission or HUD prior to the training. The training will take place within 90 days of Respondents’ receipt of a Closing Letter from the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Respondents agree to send documentation to the Commission verifying the fair housing training required by this subpart has been completed within ten (10) days of completing the training.
 
            Respondents also agree that for a period of two years from the date this Agreement is executed, any future employees of Respondents who are involved in the management or operation of residential properties will receive training on the requirements of State and Federal Fair Housing Laws within 30 days of their date of hire.  Respondents are not required to send documentation to the Commission verifying that the training of future employees has been completed. 
 
15.       Respondents shall retain all requests for reasonable accommodation for assistance animals for two years and shall allow the Iowa Civil Rights Commission to inspect those requests once every six months during the two-year period.
 
16.       Respondents shall respond to all requests for reasonable accommodation for assistance animals within ten calendar days of receipt.
 
17.       Respondents agree to include a statement on the Big Ten Rentals website, in the location designated in Attachment A, indicating Respondents comply with all federal, state, and local laws related to fair housing. This statement will remain posted for at least two years.
 
Relief for Complainant
 
18.       Within seven days of the date on the Commission’s Closing Letter, Respondents agree to pay Complainant $15,000.00 without any deductions.  Respondents agree the Settlement Check will be made out to [redacted] and sent to her at the address listed on page one of this Agreement.

 


Reporting and Record-Keeping

 


19.       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 14 of this Agreement.
 
20.       Respondents shall send to the Commission a copy of the Settlement Check within seven (7) days after its mailing to Complainant.
 
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
 
 
 
__________________________________________________        _____________
TSB Holdings, LLC, RESPONDENT                                                Date
 
 
__________________________________________________        _____________
Big Ten Property Management, LLC, RESPONDENT                      Date
 
 
__________________________________________________        _____________
Tracy Barkalow, RESPONDENT                                                       Date
 
 
__________________________________________________        _____________
[Redacted], COMPLAINANT                                                        Date
 
 
___________________________________________________      _____________
Elizabeth Johnson, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR                                 Date
IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION