FARGO — The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a settlement with a Grand Forks-based property management company and other entities in a lawsuit alleging discrimination against people with disabilities in North Dakota rental properties.
The lawsuit filed a year and a half ago alleged that Hampton Corporation Inc. and others violated the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities by failing to design and build apartment complexes and a rental office in North Dakota that were accessible to people with disabilities.
On Monday, Aug. 16, the Justice Department announced the settlement, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota.
The Department previously resolved claims against the architect and engineer involved in the design of one of the four apartment complexes at issue in the lawsuit.
Nicholas W. Chase, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota, said that his office and the DOJ are committed to fighting discriminatory treatment in housing.
“We hope that this enforcement action and others like it will serve as a deterrent to developers, architects, and engineers everywhere that they cannot cut corners by ignoring long standing accessibility requirements,” Chase said in a news release.
Chase recognized Tara Iversen, an assistant U.S. Attorney in North Dakota, paralegal specialist Michelle Erdmann, and trial attorneys from the DOJ’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section for their work toward a successful resolution.
The lawsuit alleged there were significant physical accessibility barriers at four apartment complexes and a rental office designed and constructed by Hampton Corporation Inc.; Daniel Stauss; Scott Stauss; Steeple Apts LLC; HDD Inc.; and Times Square Townhomes II Inc.
One property with alleged violations is Townhomes at Charleswood at 1908 Burlington Drive, West Fargo.
Other properties involved are in Grand Forks:
Carrington Court Townhouse Apartments at 3383 Primrose Court
South Hampton Townhomes at 3174, 3274 and 3374 36th Ave. S.
Steeples Apartments at 2850 and 2950 36th Ave. S.
A rental office that serves those Grand Forks properties at 3001 36th Ave. S.
Under terms of the settlement, the defendants must fix common areas and individual units that have inaccessible features, including removing steps, replacing steeply-sloped walkways, installing lever handles on doors, widening doorways and retrofitting bathrooms so they are accessible for wheelchair users.
The defendants must also attend fair housing training, contribute $100,000 to a settlement fund for people who suffered harm due to the inaccessible features, pay a civil penalty of $5,000 to the United States, and ensure any future housing they design or build complies with the fair housing act.
Anyone who believes they’ve been a victim of housing discrimination can call the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, email the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit a report online at www.civilrights.justice.gov.