WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - A West Lafayette property management company has been charged with housing discrimination after the state says the company violated the Indiana Civil Rights Law.
The investigation stems from a complaint filed with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) on Jan. 24 stating Granite Management wrongfully evicted a disabled tenant for not paying a pet fee for their service animal.
Now, the property manager at Granite Management is speaking out, saying this information is "false."
West Lafayette's Granite Management property manager, Joel Brovont, said in most cases, pets aren't allowed in the Granite Management apartments on Purdue's campus.
"With any property management, some buildings allow pets, and some buildings do not allow pets," Brovont explained. "If anybody is allowed to have a pet, they have to sign a separate pet addendum."
But Brovont said one of Granite's tenants violated its rules and now the case has been brought to the state.
"The tenant in question told us that it was a service animal. We asked for documentation just to verify that what he was saying was correct. Obviously, if it is a service dog, we don't want to deny somebody with a disability that right because we understand that's the case," Brovont said.
However, Brovont said upon further review of the company's policy, they determined the animal was not allowed in the apartment unless a fee was paid.
"Based on his description, of what the service animal was, and what it was being used for, and a letter that was received from his psychiatrist, after comparing his statements, the letter and looking at the ADA guidelines and the Fair Housing Act, we're not making that connection that this was actually a service animal as he was claiming that it was," Brovont said.
Documents released Tuesday morning by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission state Granite Management informed the tenant if they wished to keep the dog, they needed to pay for it or be evicted.
However, under current law, The Fair Housing Act prevents property owners from denying the use of a service animal or charging a pet fee.
The law goes on to say a service animal is not considered a "pet." However, Brovont said the information provided to the ICRC by the tenant is not true.
"In regards to the report, we are not evicting the tenant. We have not told the tenant that we are evicting him, nor have we ever filed for an eviction," Brovont said. "As far as the service animal claim that we're charging a pet fee for a service animal, we have looked over the ADA guidelines and have also read over the Fair Housing Act just to confirm and we do not believe that we are in violation either of those items."
After WLFI-News 18 contacted Granite Management this morning regarding the claims, Brovont said he contacted the ICRC because of "false information" in their news release.
The ICRC said they took the news release down from their website while they "double checked" their facts.
Upon further review of their investigation, the ICRC told News 18 that based on the evidence they were provided during their investigation, all of the information provided in the release was in fact true.
The two parties have 20 days to come to an agreement before the case is turned over to a judge.
News 18 did attempt to speak with the tenant Tuesday, but our messages have were not returned.
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