State and federal laws prohibit many forms of discrimination, but are generally unenforced without tenant legal assistance. For tenants like Joseph, CPLP's new Fair Housing Initiative makes all the difference.
Joseph, a veteran tenant with disabilities, was facing a threat of eviction based on discrimination due to his physical disabilities. After renting the unit for many years Joseph was asked by his landlord to sign a new lease that included a provision requiring him to shovel snow, which he could not do because of his disability. Joseph then reached out to the landlord and exercised his right to ask for the reasonable accommodation of exemption from the new lease requirement. The landlord refused Joseph's request and, soon after, served him with a Notice to Quit. This termination of the lease and refusal to accommodate his needs was in violation of federal and state fair housing laws. If Joseph had been evicted, moving out of this property on a short timeline would have meant a tremendous challenge to the tenant due to disability and, because of his limited finances, it would have been very difficult to find an affordable place to live on short notice.
Joseph reached out to Colorado Poverty Law Project (CPLP) for support. Our attorneys served the landlord with a Demand Letter and subsequently negotiated with the landlord. After several weeks of intense negotiation, CPLP was able to negotiate a lengthy lease extension that included the landlord agreeing to exempt Joseph from the snow shoveling requirement. Joseph was not only able to remain in his home for several more months than his original lease allowed, but he also didn't have to worry about facing another illegal Notice to Quit due to his disability.
Unfortunately, Joseph's story is not unique—there are many renters in Colorado facing housing injustice due to disability, source of income (e.g. housing vouchers, rental assistance, etc.), family status, and other protected classes. To address this community need, CPLP recently launched the Fair Housing Initiative. This program counsels and represents residents impacted by prohibited housing practices that affect housing equity, including violations of fair housing laws, the Colorado Rental Application Fairness Act, and the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act. Because state and federal laws prohibit many forms of discrimination but generally are unenforced without tenant legal assistance, there is a significant need for fair housing counseling and representation in our community.