WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - A Westchester County property management company and co-op building has agreed in federal court to pay more than $100,000 in damages following a complaint of discrimination on the basis of disability.
Joon Kim, the acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced on Friday that West-Ex Associates and 505 Central Avenue Corp. have settled a federal civil rights lawsuit for allegedly refusing to provide reasonable accommodations as required by the Fair Housing Act.
In a complaint filed in January, it was argued that between August 2013 and July 2014, West Ex and 505 Central Ave. repeatedly denied the application of a 34-year-old individual to purchase a one-bedroom unit at Thompkins Manor in White Plains, based on his disabilities.
Kim noted that the person that filed the complaint in court has suffered numerous heart attacks and lives with congenital heart problems, developmental language disorder, learning disorders, and depression. The Complainant and his family requested that ownership of his unit be placed under a legal trust, which would assist the family in fulfilling and managing the requirements of cooperative housing.
According to Kim, the Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in the terms and conditions of the sale or rental of, or to otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling based on the prospective buyer or renter’s disability. The law also mandates that reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, and services be provided when necessary to afford equal opportunity to housing to persons with disabilities.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, which was filed on Thursday, West-Ex and 505 Central Ave. must pay a total of $125,000, including compensatory damages and attorney’s fee to the person that filed the complaint, must adopt “reasonable accommodation policies and application forms approved by the United States, which must be included with all future applications for housing handed out to prospective buyers and provide annual training regarding the Fair Housing Agreement.
Additionally, Kim noted that 505 Central Ave. must only employ property management companies with adequate, reasonable accommodation policies in place, and West-Ex may not take any action as property manager for any other property that violates its newly adopted policies.
“Every member of our society is entitled to equal access to housing and the independence and dignity that it provides,” Kim stated. "With this resolution, we again emphasize that condos, cooperatives, landlords, and property managers must provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities.”
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