N.J. condo association settles over tenant discrimination

Bryan Cohen Jun. 1, 2011, 3:29pm


TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow and the Division on Civil Rights announced on Wednesday that a settlement has been reached with a South Jersey condominium association that allegedly discriminated against tenants.

The Mays Landing Village Condominium Association of Mays Landing, N.J., agreed to pay a medically-disabled resident $10,000 and forgive thousands of dollars more in maintenance fees owed by the woman to resolve allegations of unlawful discrimination. The $10,000 includes $7,528 to longtime resident Mary Lou Frisch and $2,472 for Frisch's condominium maintenance fees.

Under terms of the settlement, the association will also forgive an estimated $12,000 to $15,000 in outstanding maintenance fees owed by Frisch. The association's officers will attend training on the Law Against Discrimination and it will develop written procedures and policies for addressing future disability accommodation requests. The association will pay the division $5,000 for costs and its requests for accommodation will be monitored by the division for the next two years.

"This is a fair settlement that resolves troubling allegations of discrimination by a condominium association against a disabled resident," Chinh Q. Le, the division director, said. "This case should serve as a message to condo associations and landlords throughout the state: persons with disabilities have a right to a reasonable accommodation, and failure to provide it can result in legal consequences."

Frisch suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a debilitating lung illness, and has a permanent disabled parking permit issued by the state. Frisch had fallen behind in her maintenance fees for the condominium starting in January 2007 and the association allegedly suspended her use of common elements at Mays Landing Village in November 2008, including the residents' parking lot and swimming pool.

Frisch was allegedly forced to park off the premises and often had to walk the better part of a mile to get home, which exacerbated her lung condition. In a November 17, 2008 letter, Frisch requested that the association let her continue to park in the residents' lot despite being in arrears as an accommodation for her disability, a request that was rejected.

The association maintained that it had a right to handle Frisch's situation as it did after Frisch filed a complaint with the division. In January 2010, the division held that the association failed to demonstrate that allowing Frisch to use the residents' parking lot would cause it undue hardship.

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