The Department of Housing and Urban Development filed charges against the RiverBay Corporation, which operates Co-op City in the Baychester section of the Bronx, for violating the Fair Housing Act, the agency said. RiverBay allegedly denied a disabled tenant’s request to live with a medically prescribed support animal and further harassed that tenant because of the animal.
Though the tenant did sign a “no pets” provision upon first moving in, that was “a number of years” before he requested a service animal, with letters from his doctor and the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene explaining his need for the animal.
But RiverBay allegedly denied the request and began refusing to accept the tenant’s rent payments while attempting to evict him. Eventually RiverBay stopped pushing for eviction, but continued to deny his request while security officers “harassed” the tenant and his wife for keeping the animal, according to the HUD.
“Housing providers have a legal obligation to grant people with disabilities reasonable accommodations,” said John Trasviña, HUD’s assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
The case is slated to be heard by a U.S. Administrative Law Judge, unless either party chooses to move it to a federal district court.
RiverBay’s legal department declined to comment. — Adam Fusfeld