Property management company faces DOJ lawsuit for failing to construct multifamily homes in accordance with the ADA and FHA.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit against J. Randolph Parry Architects, P.C., and eight owners of fifteen multifamily properties constructed by the firm, alleging Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations, including “failing to design and construct housing units and related facilities to make them accessible to people with disabilities.” The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The DOJ found senior living properties were constructed without having any “accessibility barriers,” including “inaccessible pedestrian routes to building entrances, inaccessible pedestrian routes from apartment units to amenities, inaccessible parking, door openings that are too narrow for a person using a wheelchair, environmental controls that are too high or too low for a person using a wheelchair to reach, and inaccessible bathrooms and kitchens.”
The government’s lawsuit seeks have the properties brought up to code and for the defendants to pay monetary damages. Furthermore, the department wishes to ensure the defendants will be unable to design multifamily properties in the same manner moving forward.
“The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act have been the law for more than a quarter century, and there is no excuse for owners and architects to continue developing properties that fail to comply with the accessibility requirements of these statutes,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “This flagrant disregard of federal law must stop and stop now. We will hold accountable those who ignore their legal obligations to design and construct multifamily housing to be accessible to people with disabilities.”
The fifteen properties with violations named in the suit, include: “Traditions of Hanover, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Traditions of Hershey, Palmyra, Pennsylvania; Chestnut Knoll, Boyertown, Pennsylvania; Arbour Square, Harleysville, Pennsylvania; Cedar Views Apartments, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; The Birches, Newtown, Pennsylvania; The Lifequest Nursing Center Addition, Quakertown, Pennsylvania; Keystone Villa, Douglasville, Pennsylvania; Alcoeur Gardens, Brick Township, New Jersey; Alcoeur Gardens, Toms River, New Jersey; Church Hill Village, Newtown, Connecticut; Heritage Green, Mechanicsville, Virginia; Homestead, Hamilton Township, New Jersey; The Villa Rafaella Addition, Pleasantville, New Jersey; and Woodbury Mews Colonial House, Woodbury, New Jersey.”
In March, the DOJ settled a similar lawsuit with an Ohio developer of multifamily properties who it found had also committed Fair Housing Act (FHA) violations by constructing 32 units inaccessible to persons with disabilities. At the time, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division said, “For more than a quarter century, federal law has required multifamily housing complexes to be built with accessible features. This lawsuit is part of the Department of Justice’s continuing efforts to ensure that those who actively participate in the development of multifamily housing fulfill their responsibilities to ensure that the properties are accessible for persons with disabilities as required by the Fair Housing Act.”
“The purpose of the Fair Housing Act is to advance equal opportunity in housing and end discrimination,” added U.S. Attorney David DeViller for the Southern District of Ohio. The DOJ will continue to pursue litigation against companies who do not take this seriously.