CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Charleston landlord has to pay $34,000 to a woman who claimed he discriminated against her.
The woman said she contacted Michael Corey in 2009 about renting an apartment. The woman told him that her brother was autistic and she cared for him. Corey told her that before she signed a lease, she had to purchase a $1 million insurance policy to cover any damage that may be caused by her brother. She also had to sign an agreement assuming all legal liability for her brother's actions and had to get a doctor's note regarding his condition.
The woman filed a fair housing complaint with HUD and the case went to trial.
During the trial, the landlord admitted that he does not require non-disabled applicants to meet the same requirements and acknowledged that it was his belief that "persons diagnosed with autism and mental retardation pose a greater risk in terms of liability." HUD determined that although the landlord had never met the woman's brother, he worried that the brother, because he has autism, would start a fire or attack neighbors.
HUD Administrative Law Judges found that the landlord violated the Fair Housing Act and ordered Corey to pay $34,000. That includes $18,000 in damages to the woman and $16,000 in civil penalties to the government.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to deny housing or impose different rental terms and conditions based on disability, race, national origin, color, religion, sex, or familial status.
"The order reaffirms HUD's commitment to protecting the rights of persons with disabilities," stated John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "No one trying to find a place to call home should be held to a different standard or required to meet additional obligations because they have a disability."