Withers v Wise

07/07/2015
Document Text Content: 

PREDETERMINATION SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

 

CP# 01-15-66847

HUD# 07-15-0187-8

 

PARTIES TO THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT:

 

 

RESPONDENTS

 

RANDY WISE

CDRW Rentals, LLC

119 Hillside & 2nd

Sioux Rapids, Iowa 50585

 

CDRW RENTALS, LLC

c/o Carrie S. Jones, Registered Agent

215 North Market Street

Lake Park, Iowa 51347

 

 

COMPLAINANT

 

JORDAN WITHERS

c/o Wendy Withers

P.O. Box 246

Sioux Rapids, Iowa 50585

 

and

 

IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION

400 East 14th Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

 

 

Description of the Parties: 

 

Complainant alleged Respondents failed to provide a reasonable accommodation by refusing to allow or unreasonably delaying approval of his assistance animal, an eleven month old Pit-bull dog, to reside with him in his dwelling, which resulted in different terms, conditions, or privileges of rental based on disability.  Complainant further alleged Respondents failed to make timely repairs due to his disability.  Respondents own or manage the subject property, a 14-plex apartment complex located at 119 Hillside & 2nd, Sioux Rapids, Iowa 50585. 

               

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 Randy Wise and Cynthia Dather, 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 pay Complainant the sum of Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($250.00), less no deductions.  Respondents agree to send the check to Complainant at the above address within seven (7) days of Respondents’ receipt of a Closing Letter from the Commission.  Respondents also agree to send a copy of the check to the Commission, to the attention of to the attention of Don Grove, Supervisor of Investigations, within seven (7) days of Respondents’ receipt of a Closing Letter from the Commission.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

__________________________________________________           _____________

Randy Wise, RESPONDENT                                                  Date

 

 

 

__________________________________________________           _____________

CDRW Rentals, LLC,  RESPONDENT                                      Date

 

 

 

__________________________________________________           _____________

Jordan Withers, COMPLAINANT                                            Date

 

 

 

___________________________________________________        _____________

Kristin H. Johnson, Executive Director                                   Date                                     

IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION