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HUD IX No. 13-11
Gene Gibson
(415) 489-6414
www.hud.gov/california
FOR RELEASE
Tuesday
April 2, 2013

HUD AND SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE FIRM SETTLE DISCRIMINATION CLAIM
Pacific Union International to pay $18,000 for discriminating against prospective tenants with disabilities

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that Pacific Union International (PUI), a San Francisco Bay area real estate brokerage firm, will pay $18,000 as part of a ConciliationAgreement resolving allegations that the firm refused to rent apartments to prospective tenants who said they used service or emotional support animals.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for housing providers to deny persons with disabilities equal opportunities to use and enjoy their homes.  This includes permitting reasonable accommodations to “no pet” rules for persons with disabilities who need service or emotional support animals.

“It is against the law to deny a person a place to live just because they require a service or support animal to function on a daily basis,” said HUD’s Region IX Administrator Ophelia Basgal.  “Agreements like this highlight how important it is that housing providers understand and meet their obligation to comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act.”

The case began when Housing Equality Law Project (HELP), a San Francisco Bay Area-based non-profit fair housing organization, was alerted to a possible discriminatory housing practice involving a PUI agent who allegedly refused to rent an apartment to an applicant with disabilities because the applicant used a service animal. In response, HELP fair housing testers posing as applicants who used service animals sent emails to several PUI agents at different PUI real estate offices asking about available apartments. The tests revealed evidence of discriminatory housing practices, including a PUI agent who did not respond to a tester who said he used a support animal but did respond to inquiries from people who did not mention support animals. Other PUI agents stated that no pets were allowed. Based on the results of the tests, HELP filed a fair housing complaint with HUD.  

Under the terms of the agreement, PUI will pay $18,000 to HELP and provide PUI’s employees with fair housing training. The firm will also include a statement in its rental advertisements for the next three years that acknowledges its commitment to fair housing and develop a written reasonable accommodation policy.

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