Pilcher v Gould

12/02/2015
Document Text Content: 

PREDETERMINATION SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

CP# 06-15-67557
HUD# 07-15-0473-8

PARTIES TO THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT:


RESPONDENTS

JOEL GOULD
408 1st Street
P.O. Box 1503
Mason City, Iowa 50402-8708

NORTH IOWA TRANSITION CENTER, INC.
408 1st Street
P.O. Box 1503
Mason City, Iowa 50402-8708


COMPLAINANT

MELISSA (DICE) PILCHER
418 N. Madison Avenue
Mason City, Iowa 50401-3054

and

IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION
Grimes State Office Building
400 East 14th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319


Description of the Parties:

Complainant alleged Respondents failed to provide a reasonable accommodation by refusing to waive a pet deposit policy for an assistance animal, which resulted in different terms, conditions, or privileges of rental based on disability. Respondents own or manage the subject property, a four-plex apartment building located at 418 North Madison Avenue in Mason City, Iowa.

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).

3. Respondents acknowledge the Fair Housing Act (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. Assistance animals (service animals, emotional support animals, therapy animals, companion animals or support animals) are not considered pets under the FHA and ICRA and cannot, therefore, be subjected to pet fees or pet deposits.

Respondents acknowledge that allowing an assistance animal qualifies as a reasonable accommodation if the animal is needed to assist an individual with a disability as required by law. Under the FHA and ICRA, an assistance animal qualifies as a reasonable accommodation if the animal works, 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.

Housing providers cannot restrict the type of dog, size or weight of assistance animals cannot require special tags, equipment, certification or special identification of assistance animals.

Respondents acknowledge they will consider each tenant or prospective tenant’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 tenant/prospective tenant’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 tenant or prospective tenant’s need for the accommodation, i.e., the relationship between the person’s disability and the need for the requested accommodation.

Respondents acknowledge a housing provider can deny a request for a reasonable accommodation if it would impose an “undue financial and administrative burden” or it would “fundamentally alter the nature of the provider’s operations.” “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.

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 his 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), 42 U.S.C. 3610(b)(4), and 24 CFR 103.330(b), 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. Respondents agree Joel Gould 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. The training will address all aspects of fair housing law, but will emphasize the law regarding how to handle requests for reasonable accommodations from individuals with disabilities. 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.

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 adopt a Reasonable Accommodation Policy for Persons with Disabilities in a form substantially equivalent to Attachment 1. 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 use the following forms:
“ Request for Reasonable Accommodation (Attachment 2), or
“ Oral requests for reasonable accommodations shall be recorded by Respondents” employees or agents using the “Request” form, (Attachment 3)
“ Approval or Denial of Reasonable Accommodation Request (Attachment 4).

Relief for Complainant

14. Respondents agree to make reasonable accommodation in their policies and practices in order to allow Complainant to obtain and keep an assistance animal at her apartment at 418 North Madison Avenue, Mason City, Iowa. Respondents acknowledge Complainant’s assistance animal is an emotional support animal and should not be subject to any of Respondents’ pet policies. Respondent agrees to waive the pet deposit for Complainant’s assistance animal.

Reporting and Record-Keeping

15. 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.

16. 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, applicable request forms, and modified lease agreement 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.


All required documentation of compliance must be submitted to:
Don Grove, Supervisor of Housing Investigations
Grimes State Office Building
400 East 14th Street,
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

 

Signatures on Following Page

 

 

__________________________________________________ _____________
Joel Gould, RESPONDENT Date

 

__________________________________________________ _____________
North Iowa Transition Center, Inc., RESPONDENT Date

 

_________ __________ ______ ______________
Melissa (Dice) Pilcher Date

 

___________________________________________________ _____________
Kristin H. Johnson, Executive Director Date
IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attachment 1

Reasonable Accommodation Policy for Persons with Disabilities

If a tenant or someone associated with a tenant has a disability, he/she may request a reasonable accommodation. Accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services may be made when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

It is preferred that all requests for reasonable accommodations be submitted in writing to the Apartment Manager. Forms to request reasonable accommodations are available in the rental or leasing office. If a tenant or household member has difficulty completing the form, the Apartment Manager will assist him/her. Oral requests for reasonable accommodations will be recorded and processed in accordance with this policy.

Within fourteen (14) days of receiving the request for reasonable accommodation, the Apartment Manager will notify the person making the request whether the request was granted or denied, or whether additional information is needed before a decision can be made. If the request is denied, the Apartment Manager will include an explanation in the written notification.

If the request is denied, the affected tenant or household member may contact the Iowa Civil Rights Commission or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Iowa Civil Rights Commission
400 East 14th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
515-281-4121 or 800-457-4416

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity
400 State Avenue
Gateway Tower II
Kansas City, Kansas 66101
913-551-6958 or 800-743-5323

 

 

 

 

 

Attachment 2

Request for Reasonable Accommodation

If you, a member of your household, or someone associated with you has a disability, and feel that there is a need for a reasonable accommodation for that person to fully enjoy the premises or have equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit or the public or common use areas, please complete this form and return it to your Apartment Manager. Check all items that apply and explain fully. The Apartment Manager will assist you in completing this form, and will answer this request in writing within two weeks (or sooner if the situation requires an immediate response).

Name of Tenant or Applicant: __________________________
Today”s Date: ________________

Signature of Tenant or Applicant: __________________________

The person who has a disability requiring a reasonable accommodation is:
_____ Me
_____ A person associated or living with me

Name of person with disability: __________________________
Address: ___________________________________________________
Telephone: ________________

I am requesting the following change(s) in rule, policy, or practices so that I and persons associated or living with me can live here with equal opportunity to use and enjoy the premises.

I need the following change(s):
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

I need this reasonable accommodation because:
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

_________________________ ________________
Requester Date

__________________________ ________________
Apartment Manager Date

Attachment 3

Request for Reasonable Accommodation


[To be completed by Apartment Manager if Requester cannot or will not complete written form.]


On ________________, the undersigned Tenant or Applicant orally requested a reasonable accommodation. He/she requested the following change(s) in rule, policy or practices:
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________


Signature of Tenant or Applicant: __________________________

Name of Tenant or Applicant: __________________________
Address: __________________________________________________
Date: ________________

 

I, the undersigned, Apartment Manager of ________________ Apartments:

_____ Gave the Tenant or Applicant the form, “Request for Reasonable Accommodation” and offered to assist in completing the form.
_____ Granted the request.
_____ Explained the request could not be evaluated until the following additional information is provided:
________________________________________________________________________
__ _____________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

 


__________________________ ________________
Apartment Manager Date

Attachment 4

Approval or Denial of Reasonable Accommodation Request


Dear: _______________________
Address: ___________________________________________________


On ________________, you requested the following reasonable accommodation:
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________


We have reviewed your request and we have decided:

 To approve your request. We will make the following change(s) in rule, policy or practices:
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Date change(s) will be made: _______________________

 To deny your request. We denied your request because:
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

In making this denial decision, we relied on information provided by the following people or documents:
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

 To seek further information from you about your request. We cannot approve or deny your request without additional information or documentation. Please provide:
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________


__________________________ ________________
Apartment Manager Date