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United States Files Suit Against Long Island Housing Complex for Fair Housing Act Violations

Benton J. Campbell, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the filing of a federal civil complaint against Sunrise Villas LLC, its manager, and assistant manager for violations of the Fair Housing Act. Sunrise Villas LLC is the owner and operator of the Sunrise Villas apartment complex located at Leonard Court in Lindenhurst, N.Y. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Under the Act, housing providers are required to make reasonable accommodations when necessary to afford tenants an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling and cannot refuse to rent to or make apartments unavailable to persons with disabilities because of those disabilities.

According to the government’s complaint, the defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of refusing to rent apartments to individuals who require the use of service animals. As alleged, on three separate occasions, testers employed by Long Island Housing Services, a fair housing advocacy group located in Bohemia, N.Y., represented that they sought to rent apartments at Sunrise Villas for individuals who required service animals. Testers were told that the development had a strict “no-pets” rule, and that the complex would not rent to individuals with service animals.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief requiring the defendants to bring its practices into compliance with the Fair Housing Act, damages to compensate persons harmed by these discriminatory practices, and civil penalties.

“Persons with disabilities are entitled to the protections of the Fair Housing Act. This includes the right of individuals who require service animals to be able to rent apartments in the same manner as individuals without disabilities,” stated U.S. Attorney Campbell. “Apartment buildings that discriminate against or fail to reasonably accommodate disabled individuals will be held accountable for failing to comply with the law.”

“Service animals allow persons with disabilities to maintain their independence and enhance their quality of life,” said John Trasvina, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “When we find that individuals are being unjustly denied such a reasonable accommodation, we will take action.”

The government’s case is being litigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Horan Florio.

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