Fair housing organizations file suit alleging violations of Fair Housing Act at multiple Metro Development properties
COFHA and MVFHC file federal lawsuit alleging accessibility violations
June 28, 2016 — The Central Ohio Fair Housing Association (COFHA) and the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the developers, designers, management company, and owners of eight multifamily apartment complexes in metropolitan Columbus violated and continue to violate the accessibility requirements of the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA). The suit, filed on June 24, 2016, alleges that Metro Development LLC and several other companies have engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against people with disabilities in violation of the FHAA.
The defendants in the case include Metro Development LLC; Integrated Partners Development Company LLC; Oxford Circle Development LLC; Triangle Properties Development, LLC; Ardent Property Management, Inc.;
SBA Studios LLC; Albany Landings LLC; Four Pointe LLC; Northpark Place LLC; Remington Woods LLC; The Monroe House LLC; The Residences at Central Park LLC; The Woods at Perry Lane LLC; Winchester Park LLC; and the individual and corporate owners of buildings and/or dwelling units located at various properties, named solely because they may be necessary to effectuate any injunctive relief with respect to access, retrofitting, and policy implementation that may be ordered by the court in this matter.
The lawsuit alleges that Northpark Place and at least seven other properties in the Columbus area were designed by the same designer, developed by the same developers, are operated by the same management firm, have the same or similar floor plans, have the same design elements, and contain the same or similar design and construction violations.
In August 2015, after becoming aware that the multifamily housing complexes designed and/or developed by Metro Development did not include the FHAA’s required accessible and adaptable design elements, COFHA and MVFHC initiated an investigation of the properties including obtaining the plans and occupancy permits for Northpark and the other properties, visiting the properties, and reviewing information that is publicly available, including floor plans, showing the layout and structure for the properties.
The lawsuit explains that the plaintiffs’ 10-month investigation identified multiple FHAA design and construction violations at each property. Some of the issues revealed by the investigation and alleged in the lawsuit as violations include: lack of accessible bathrooms; lack of sufficient centered clear floor space at bathroom sinks, toilets, and other amenities for people with disabilities to enter and use the facilities; lack of adequate space in the kitchens for a person in a wheelchair to enter, maneuver, and access the appliances; lack of an accessible route from the pedestrian arrival areas to the primary entrances of dwellings; and lack of accessible mailboxes and gate hardware, which are located outside of reach range for wheelchair users and are therefore too high for some persons with disabilities to use them.
The Fair Housing Act makes it possible for organizations like COFHA and MVFHC to sue on behalf of the community in order to root out housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunities for all residents regardless of whether they receive a complaint from an individual. Stephen M. Dane, Sara K. Pratt, and Laura J. Gaztambide-Arandes, of Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC, a Washington, DC-based law firm that specializes in civil rights litigation, are representing the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit alleges that Metro Development and other defendants have made dwellings unavailable to people with physical disabilities in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act, (FHA), 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1), and/or have discriminated against them in the terms, conditions, or privileges of the rental of dwellings in violation of the FHA, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2) and that the existing features at the subject properties do not comply with the FHA Accessibility Guidelines or with any other accessibility standard recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The complaint further alleges that both COFHA and MVFHC have been directly and substantially injured by the violations through a diversion of significant and scarce resources for the organizations and frustration of the organizations’ missions.
The suit asks the court to declare that Metro Development and other defendants have violated the federal Fair Housing Act; seeks a permanent injunction enjoining the defendants from failing or refusing to:
- declare that the defendants violated the FHAA and applicable regulations by designing and constructing and renting the subject properties;
- bring the covered dwelling units and public and common use areas into compliance with the FHAA;
- design or construct any covered multifamily dwellings in the future in compliance with the FHAA; and
- make appropriate retrofits to all covered properties in order to bring them into compliance.
The lawsuit also seeks compensatory and punitive damages for both Central Ohio Fair Housing Association and Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, plus all attorney fees, costs, and expenses.
Fair Housing groups around the country demand Westchester enforcement
MVFHC joins with nine other groups in calling for full enforcement of decree
June 14, 2016 — In papers filed today in Federal District Court in the Southern District of New York, the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) joined with nine other civil rights from across the country in urging the Court to consider fully the facts and perspective brought to the Court’s attention in a May 11th letter from the Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC). Pointing out that the failure to enforce the consent decree against Westchester County will embolden others across the country to perpetuate segregation, the groups asked the Court to order the robust remedies sought by ADC.
In addition to MVFHC, the groups filing the papers are: Central Ohio Fair Housing Association, Disability Law Center, Enhanced Section 8 Outreach Program, ERASE Racism, Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches, Fair Housing Council of Orange Country, Inclusive Communities Project, and National Fair Housing Alliance.
MVFHC and the other groups, except for Enhanced Section 8 Outreach Program, are represented by Mariann Meier Wang, a partner in the law firm Cuti Hecker Wang. Enhanced Section 8 Outreach Program is represented by its General Counsel, Jerrold M. Levy.
The groups thank MVFHC President/CEO Jim McCarthy for his leadership in this matter.
June 2016 newsletter now available
Download our June newsletter!
The latest edition of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center’s newsletter is now available to download.
The newsletter has information about MVFHC’s upcoming 12th annual Waikiki Party Fundraiser, HUD’s Updated Rule on Harassment in Housing, and fair housing webinars offered by Greater Dayton Apartment Association featuring John Zimmerman.
To receive new editions of the newsletter via e-mail, become a MVFHC member.
Previous news items are available here.
Resources and useful links
Fair Housing webinars
In conjunction with the Greater Dayton Apartment Association, MVFHC is offering one-hour fair housing webinars on the second Thursday
of every other month in 2016. For more information, visit our GDAA webinar page
Reasonable Modifications and Accommodations
Have questions about what your rights or responsibilities are under the federal Fair Housing Act for persons with disabilities? Now available online in the Services/Reference section are joint statements from the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development that explain reasonable modifications
HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton
The Home Ownership Center
is a non-profit organization that empowers local residents to achieve and sustain homeownership and financial success. They’ve helped thousands of individuals and families meet their homeownership goals through a variety of services offered at low or no cost.
MVFHC provides legal counsel and advice at no cost for foreclosure cases involving residential mortgages.
If you have received a foreclosure complaint, call MVFHC at 937-223-6035.
If you are struggling with your mortgage payments but have not yet been served with a foreclosure notice, please contact the HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton at 937-853-1600.
Service Animal Policy
A Service Animal Policy
is now available available online in the Services/Reference section. The policy explains what service animals are and how they are a reasonable accommodation under the Federal Fair Housing Act and also provides practice guidelines for housing providers
and for tenants
Additional Landlord/Tenant info
Also, if you are a landlord or a tenant wanting information on your rights and duties under Ohio law, the Dayton-Montgomery County Ombudsman's Office has a page about landlord/tenant issues
Mobile Home Park residents
rights and responsibilities
A booklet outlining your rights and responsibilities when renting mobile homes or lots in mobile home parks is available on the Ohio Legal Services website
Fair Housing Advertising Word and Phrase List
A word and phrase list
intended as a guideline to assist in complying with state and federal fair housing laws is available online in the Services/Reference section.
Equal Housing Opportunity usage guidelines
on the usage of the "Equal Housing Opportunity" logo and slogan are available online in the Services/Reference section.
Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST
is an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that promotes compliance with the Fair Housing Act design and construction requirements. Visit www.fairhousingfirst.org
for instruction programs and useful online resources.
is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. To learn how you can save money in your home, visit www.energystar.gov
Copies of special reports such as Analyses of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice released by local jurisdictions as well as other reports done by MVFHC on zoning and predatory lending are available on the reports