Multifamily owners pay $11.3m to settle disability-based housing discrimination suit

by Francis Monfort26 Nov 2018

Property owners Mid-America Apartment Communities and Mid-America Apartments have entered a settlement for $11.3 million to resolve allegations that they failed to build 50 apartment complexes with accessible features for persons with disabilities, the Justice Department has announced.

In a Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit, the government said the companies built the properties with significant barriers that inhibited access to the units and the associated public and common-use areas.

Under the agreement, Mid-America Apartment Communities and Mid-America Apartments agreed to spend $8.7 million to retrofit 36 properties that they currently own. The amount is in addition to $2.4 million in retrofits that had been made to many of the properties after the US brought suit.

The defendants also agreed to pay $175,000 to compensate victims and up to $25,000 for accessibility retrofits at 14 properties they no longer own. The defendants also agreed to undergo training, to construct any new multifamily housing in accordance with the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, and to provide periodic reports to the Justice Department.

In its complaint, the government claimed that the properties had barriers including routes to building entrances with steps and excessive slopes, units with electrical outlets and thermostats that are beyond the reach of persons who use wheelchairs, and kitchens and bathrooms with insufficient space for persons who use wheelchairs to maneuver.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2010 against Post Properties, Post Apartment Homes, and Post GP Holdings. These entities merged with the defendants in 2016.

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