Chapman v National Biscuit Company Flats LLC

01/12/2015
Document Text Content: 

PREDETERMINATION SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

 

CP# 07-12-62859

HUD# 07-12-0665-8

 

PARTIES TO THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT:

 

 

RESPONDENTS

 

NATIONAL BISCUIT COMPANY FLATS, LLC

6333 East Mockingbird Lane Suite 147-909

Dallas, Texas 75214

 

JAN BOLTE

10th Street Lofts

112 10th Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50309

 

 

COMPLAINANT

 

MARY CHAPMAN

Commissioner

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 alleged Respondents failed to provide a reasonable accommodation by refusing to waive their

no pets” policy for a service animal and this constituted a denial of rental housing based on disability.  Respondents own or manage the subject property, a 54-unit apartment complex located at 1001 Cherry Street, Des Moines, IA 50309.     

 

 

 

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 Law

 

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 Iowa Code Chapter 216; or because of giving testimony or assistance, or participating in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing under Iowa Code Chapter 216; or because of lawful opposition to any practice forbidden under Iowa Code Chapter 216.

 

2.            Respondents agree to refrain from committing any act of discrimination in the terms, conditions or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling or in the provision of services or facilities on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability, or familial status, in violation of Iowa Code Chapter 216.

 

3.            Respondents acknowledge Federal and State Fair Housing Laws make it unlawful

discriminate in the sale or rental or otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of a disability. 

42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(1)(a); Iowa Code § 216.8A(3)(a).

 

4.            Respondents acknowledge Federal and State Fair Housing Laws 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.

42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(3)(b); Iowa Code § 216.8A(3)(c)(2) and

42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(2)(a); Iowa Code § 216.8A(3)(b)(1)

 

5.            Respondents acknowledge their obligation under State and Federal Fair Housing Laws to waive their “no pets” policy as a reasonable accommodation when necessary to permit an individual with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.  Assistance animals categorized as either service animals or emotional support animals are not considered pets under the Fair Housing Act and cannot be subjected to pet rules, pet fees or pet deposits.  Respondents acknowledge waiving a “no pets” policy for a service animal or emotional support animal qualifies as a reasonable accommodation if the animal is needed to assist an individual with a disability. 

 

Under State and Federal Fair Housing Laws, waiving a “ no pets” policy qualifies as a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal if the animal provides assistance or performs tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability, such as guiding visually impaired individuals, alerting hearing impaired individuals to sounds and noises, providing protection or rescue assistance, pulling a wheelchair, seeking and retrieving items, alerting individuals to impending seizures, and providing emotional support to persons who have a disability and a need for such support.  

 

Landlords cannot restrict the type of dog, size or weight of assistance animals and 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.          The parties agree the terms of this Agreement shall be subject to public disclosure unless Complainant and Respondents agree otherwise, and the Commission determines that disclosure is not necessary to further the purposes of Iowa Code Chapter 216 relating to unfair or discriminatory practices in housing or real estate.

 

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, and with regard to any and all other matters, 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.          Respondents agreed Jan Bote would receive training on the requirements of State and Federal Fair Housing Laws and the law regarding how to handle requests for reasonable accommodations from individuals with a disability.  During Settlement discussions, Respondents and the Commission agreed Respondents would fulfill this training requirement by enrolling Jan Bote in the 2012 HousingIowa Conference held in Des Moines, Iowa on September 5th and 6, 2012.    

 

Respondents also agreed to send documentation to the Commission, verifying the fair housing training has been completed, to the attention of Don Grove, Supervisor of Investigations, on or before September 30, 2012.     

 

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 and procedures 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., and include the following provisions:

 

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. 

 

Respondents shall use the following forms:

 

             Request for Reasonable Accommodation (Attachments 1 and 2), and

             Approval or Denial of Reasonable Accommodation Request

(Attachment 3)

 

Oral requests for reasonable accommodations shall be recorded by Respondents’ employees or agents using the “Request” form, Attachment 2.

 

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.

 

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 and procedures to each current and future resident who has requested an accommodation, in a form substantially equivalent to Attachment 4.

 

Respondents agree to modify their current policy and no longer require a written affidavit from a licensed physician when an individual makes a request for a reasonable accommodation due to a disability.  Under the modified policy, if the tenant/prospective tenant’s disability is not obvious, Respondents can ask the tenant/prospective tenant to provide documentation from a health care provider that verifies their disability, but Respondent cannot ask for descriptive details about the disability.  Respondents also agree to send documentation to the Commission, verifying they have modified their policy, to the attention of Don Grove, Supervisor of Investigations, within ten (14) days of receiving a Closing Letter from the Commission.     

 

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 ninety (90) days of the execution of this Settlement Agreement, Respondents shall report all errors to the Commission, as well as all actions taken to correct those errors, to the attention of Don Grove, Supervisor of Investigations.  For each error, Respondents shall provide:

             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 Jan Bote will to attend and participate in a Community Fair Housing Event within 120 days of receiving a Closing Letter from the Commission.  Respondents also agree if they cannot find a Fair Housing Event to attend, Respondents will be amenable to the Commission’s recommendation of an upcoming Fair Housing Event to be hosted in Des Moines or surrounding communities. The parties agree if Complainant cannot find a Fair Housing Event to attend and if the Commission does not recommend one this requirement would be voided.  

 

Respondents agree to send written verification to the Commission and provide specifics about the Fair Housing Event they attended, including date, who attended, location, and topics discussed, to the Commission, to the attention of Don Grove, Supervisor of Investigations, within 120 days of receiving a closing letter from the Commission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

___________________________________________________        _____________

National Biscuit Company, LLC, RESPONDENT                      Date

 

 

 

___________________________________________________        _____________

Jan Bote, RESPONDENT                                                 Date

 

 

 

_________                                        __________                     ____________________

Mary Chapman, COMPLAINANT                                                               Date

 

 

 

___________________________________________________        _____________

Beth Townsend, DIRECTOR                                                         Date

IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION