HUD Investigation Finds Luxury Condominium in Puerto Rico Violates the Accessibility Requirements of the Fair Housing Act

By klrw460 April 5, 2024

SAN JUAN – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has brought charges against several parties involved with the Quantum Metrocenter Condominiums (QMC) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. These charges allege that the design and construction of QMC did not meet the accessibility standards required by the Fair Housing Act, following a HUD-initiated complaint. The charged entities include the architectural firm responsible for QMC’s design, the general contractor, and both the initial and subsequent property owners. Additionally, some parties are accused of not granting reasonable accommodation requests, which affected two residents’ ability to access the property’s features due to its non-compliant design.

According to the Act, all multifamily housing developed after March 1991 must have features that are accessible to individuals with disabilities. The legislation also protects against disability discrimination, which includes the denial of reasonable accommodations that would enable disabled homeowners equal opportunity to enjoy their residences.

Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Assistant Deputy Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, stated, “Denying residents the equal use and enjoyment of their homes due to their disability is inadmissible. We are committed to making sure that disabled individuals can access their residences, as mandated by the Fair Housing Act.”

HUD General Counsel Damon Smith remarked, “Today’s enforcement action serves as a reminder to those involved in housing development, including providers, builders, and architects, that they must ensure their designs and constructions allow equal access for disabled persons. We are determined to rigorously enforce the Act to guarantee everyone has equal opportunity to live in their chosen community.”

The Charge of Discrimination details failures such as the lack of accessible building entrances, usable public areas, accessible unit routes, operable doors, reachable thermostats, properly reinforced walls for bathroom grab bars, and functional kitchens and bathrooms for wheelchair users in QMC’s dual-tower, 80-unit complex. The charge also includes the failure to approve a necessary accommodation for accessible parking, which would have improved disabled residents’ access to their units and shared amenities.

A United States Administrative Law Judge is set to hear the case unless a party opts for a Federal district court trial. If the judge concludes that discrimination occurred, remedies may include compensation for the affected resident, injunctions, and other forms of relief to prevent further discrimination, as well as legal fees and civil penalties. If the case moves to Federal court, punitive damages may also be awarded.

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