LI landlord settles suit alleging disability discrimination


Long Island Housing Services announced it has reached a settlement with a Long Island apartment landlord over alleged disability discrimination. 

Southwood Company LLC, a subsidiary of Heatherwood Communities, agreed to pay $86,500 in monetary damages and will adopt a non-discriminatory fair housing policy, a parking policy, and an emotional support and service animal policy, as well as provide housing training to their employees and agents as part of the settlement.  

After an investigation launched in 2016, LIHS found that Southwood Luxury Apartments in North Amityville appeared to be discriminating against individuals with disabilities, according to an agency statement. The LIHS complaint alleged that a tester with a disability was told by a superintendent at the Southwood complex that obtaining an assigned handicapped parking spot was “not possible” and that “people have asked.” 

In addition, the complaint also alleged that a former employee at the Southwood leasing office said the LIHS tester would essentially need to rely on the neighbors understanding that it would be their unassigned handicapped parking spot and that the neighbors would not use it or permit their guests to use it.  

The complaint also alleges that same former employee told a tester that they could not live on the second floor if they had a service animal. 

In 2018, LIHS filed a federal complaint against the landlord. The federal Fair Housing Act, New York State Human Rights Law, and Suffolk County Human Rights Law all prohibit housing discrimination based on disability.  

“The improvements made to Southwood’s policies will benefit all Long Islanders in the future,” Ian Wilder, LIHS executive director, said in the statement. “It is inefficient for these basic fair housing policies to only be enacted after a complaint. They should be a required part of operating multifamily housing development.” 

The landlord has yet to respond to a request for comment.


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