EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSCHARLESTON DISCRIMINATION CASE
from Eyewitness News Online
HUD Says Landlord Discriminated Against Woman And Autistic Brother
Reported by: Jeff Morris
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Aug. 24, 2012 1:44 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A Charleston landlord was ordered to pay $34,000 for violating the Fair Housing Act for discriminating against a West Virginia woman and her autistic brother, officials said.
Michael Corey was ordered by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to pay the money, which includes $18,000 in damages to the woman and $16,000 in civil penalties to the government, according to a news release from HUD.
The landlord allegedly demanded that before he would sign a lease agreement for the woman that she must purchase a $1 million insurance policy to cover damages or injuries caused by her brother and sign an agreement assuming all legal liability for her brother’s actions, the release said. In addition, the release said the landlord required the woman to obtain a doctor’s note regarding her brother’s condition. Believing she was being discriminated against, the woman filed a fair housing complaint with HUD.
At trial, the landlord admitted that he does not require non-disabled applicants to meet the same requirements and that he believed “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 would start a fire or attack neighbors.
The woman, the legal guardian and primary caretaker of her brother, said her brother is “one of the most loving persons you’ll ever meet. He’s a human being and the idea he would harm anyone else brings me to tears.”
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