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INDIANAPOLIS – The Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC), through his designee, Deputy Director Akia Haynes, announced earlier this week that the agency has issued a finding that there is probable cause to believe that Granite Management, LLC wrongfully charged a disabled tenant for a pet fee for their service animal.
An investigation stemming from a January 24, 2013, Complaint filed with the ICRC found that the charging party was told they must pay a fee for their service animal after requesting an accommodation and providing medical documentation to Granite Management, LLC.
According to the lease agreement, the charging party would be imposed a fee of $300 each time a pet was found on their property. In documentation provided by the complaining party, they were charged on two such occasions. Since the charging party did not pay the pet fee associated with the service animal, Granite Management, LLC, per the lease agreement, could issue a notice of eviction.
“The issue is whether the alleging party was subjected to paying a fee to keep their service animal,” said Haynes. “The Fair Housing Act prevents property owners from denying the use of a service animal and/or charging an additional or “pet” fee. It’s important to note that a service animal is not a “pet.”
In order to prevail, the Complainant must show that: (1) they are a member of a protected class; (2) Respondent is aware that they were disabled; (3) they requested a reasonable accommodation; and (4) Respondent denied the requested accommodation.
A finding of probable cause does not resolve a civil rights complaint. Rather, it means that the State has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined that there is sufficient evidence to support reasonable suspicion that the Indiana Civil Rights Law has been violated. Indiana Civil Rights Law provides remedies, including compensatory damages and injunctive relief, such as changes in the employer’s policies and training.
The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana. For more information, contact Brad Meadows, ICRC Communications Manager, at (317) 232-2651.