Raleigh HOA settles dispute over wheelchair ramp
Posted March 23, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — The homeowners association for a north Raleigh neighborhood on Monday agreed to pay $20,000 to settle allegations that the association discriminated against a disabled resident.
The settlement by Carriages at Allyn’s Landing Owners Association and property manager VPJ Enterprises includes a $5,000 donation to Operation Finally Home, which builds mortgage-free homes for wounded and disabled veterans, and $15,000 for Legal Aid of North Carolina, which represented homeowners Cindy and Ian Block.
The Blocks installed a wheelchair ramp to the door of their townhome in the neighborhood, which is off Old Lead Mine Road, in 2009 to accommodate Cindy Block's disabled mother. The HOA instructed the couple they could have the ramp as long as it was needed, but the association ordered it removed in 2011 after her mother died, according to a lawsuit.
The Blocks obtained a note from an optometrist noting that Cindy Block is legally blind and asking that the ramp remain, but the HOA again put conditions on the ramp's continued presence, such as requiring it be removed before the Blocks ever sell the townhouse, the lawsuit states.
The North Carolina Human Relations Commission determined in 2012 that the HOA's actions violated state and federal fair housing laws, and the couple subsequently sued.
The settlement also calls for the HOA and property manager to undergo fair housing training.
"Homeowners associations are obligated to follow fair housing laws and must grant reasonable accommodations that enable individuals with disabilities to fully use and enjoy their homes," Jack Holtzman, co-director of Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Fair Housing Project, said in a statement.
"I’m glad the homeowners association and property manager acknowledged that their conduct is covered by state and federal fair housing laws. Hopefully, no future homeowners association members will experience the problems I had in trying to keep my handicap ramp," Cindy Block said in a statement.