Landlord Who Allows Smoking Faces Discrimination Claim

by Chris on October 17, 2011

A Florida landlord has been sued for discrimination after refusing to relocate a resident who complained second-hand smoke from a neighboring tenant was making her sick.

The landlord could be liable for discrimination for telling the tenant that she would need to pay a new application fee and security deposit in order to take a different apartment. The Fair Housing Act requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for renters with disabilities.

The tenant claims that twice she became ill in her apartment and had to be transported to the emergency room complaining of difficulty breathing. On both occasions, she claims she told the landlord that smoke was coming into her apartment from other units, and that her doctor had advised her to avoid exposure to cigarette smoke because it would exacerbate her chronic respiratory illness. She requested to move to a vacant apartment located between an elevator and a unit occupied by a non-smoker.

The tenant claims that the landlord made up a story that tax regulations prevented the transfer to another apartment unless she pay an application fee, an increased security deposit, and an early termination fee for vacating her current unit.

To avoid paying the early termination fee, the tenant waited to move to the requested unit until after her lease expired, nearly a year after her first request. She was still charged the application fee and additional security deposit.

The case is set to be resolved by an Administrative Law Judge who will determine whether the landlord will pay fines or restitution to the victim.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

scott October 19, 2011 at 1:39 am

Didnt I just recently read an article on here about a disicrimination suit involving someone that was renting a ‘non smoking’ unit? It would also seem to me that if the landlord did not charge her an application fee, then the landlord would be discrimintaing against other prospective teneant that would be applying for the unit in question.

Dawn December 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm

The landlord should have just had her update or confirm her information that was on file. If she was already a tenant, there was no reason to try and charge her another application fee, as all of the previous information should have been identical. That’s just the landlord being greedy (and asking for trouble). The increased security deposit fee I could see if the other apartment was a higher rent, and the landlord has a policy to collect the equivalent of one month’s rent, for example.

A lot of tenants come up with totally bogus reasons to complain (and not live up to their end of the bargain). We don’t need to be stupid and give them valid ones.

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