WASHINGTON, D.C. (News release) – Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) filed a housing discrimination complaint against the John Toland Company, alleging that people with disabilities were denied requests for reasonable accommodations and offered different terms and conditions because of their disability at New Horizons Apartments.* The complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission.
John Toland Company owns and manages New Horizons Apartments which has about 210 apartment units in North Little Rock, Arkansas. In its investigation, NFHA documented that John Toland Company staff told potential tenants who stated they had disabilities which required the use of a guide dog that they would have to pay an extra charge for a service dog or that the company had a “no pets” policy.
“Apartment owners and managers cannot shut out people with disabilities because their disability requires the use of an assistance animal. Persons with disabilities who require assistance animals come from all walks of life, and many are veterans,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of NFHA. “Protection for people with disabilities has been federal law since 1988. Apartment owners may have a “no pets” policy and if they allow pets, they may charge pet fees. However, they must make a reasonable accommodation to their pet policy for a person with a disability who requires an assistance animal. They cannot deny the apartment or house or charge fees for a service animal.”
“Everyone should be provided the opportunity to live independent lives. Many individuals with disabilities require the use of a service animal to carry out their daily activities,” said Wanda Horton, Executive Director of the Arkansas Disability Coalition. “They should not be discriminated against because of their disability and their need for assistance. Persons requiring these animals should be allowed to live where they choose and be afforded equal access.”
According to data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, about one out of every four residents in Arkansas lives with a disability that limits daily activities (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013).
The federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status. The Fair Housing Act was amended by Congress in 1988 and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. It added protections for people with disabilities and families with children. For example, a landlord may not deny a unit, charge higher rent or steer someone to a certain floor of an apartment building because of a person’s disability. The law also requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations and allow reasonable modifications to structures for persons with disabilities.
Click here to view the complaint documents and public service announcements related to this case.
*New Horizons Apartments are located on Augusta Circle.