The entities who designed, built, owned and managed 14 apartment complexes across central and northern Indiana have agreed to make improvements to the residential properties and pay more than $500,000 to settle a complaint filed by the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana over alleged violations of federal accessibility requirements.
Elwood Real Equities Inc., Construction Management & Design Inc., Alan R. Collins, Chris L. Collins, Property Management & Maintenance LLC, J.S.L LLC, J.S.L. & Associates, David Wells and James Lenczowski have agreed to expand access to people with disabilities in their apartment complexes.
The respondents will establish a $280,000 Modification Fund to pay for the remediation of the individual units or the exteriors of the properties. Also, the respondents will pay $275,000 to compensate FHCCI for attorney fees, costs and litigation expenses.
Respondents’ properties included in the settlement are Bison Ridge Estates (Elwood); Briar Ridge Apartments and Villas, Tippe River Downs, Lakeland Villa Apartments (Warsaw); Briarwood Apartments and Villas (LaPorte); Long Beach Cove Villas (Michigan City); Main Street Centre (Culver); Hi-Tec Apartments, Parkview Place/Plymouth Senior Facilities, Plum Street Villas (Plymouth); Prairie Ridge Apartments (New Carlisle); Bremen Park Apartments (Bremen); Quail Ridge Apartments (Columbia City); and Lakeview Apartments (Lakeville).
The settlement includes extensive retrofits and remedial actions in all public and common use areas at all involved properties, including providing accessible routes to each villa unit, to the rental office and to amenities around the properties; replacing external door hardware on villa entrance doors; adding more ramps and curb ramps and replacing sidewalks that have steep slopes; and providing the appropriate number of accessible parking spaces.
Modifications to address the individual needs of the tenants could include adding grab bars, making door hardware changes, lowering thresholds or making sinks more accessible, and adding ramps.
During a two-year investigation, FHCCI identified what the nonprofit alleged to be violations of the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Amy Nelson, executive director of FHCCI, noted the Fair Housing Amendments Act, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, protected people with disabilities from discrimination in housing.
“The Act required most newly constructed multi-family properties have basic accessible features to allow persons with disabilities to have housing available to them like those without disabilities,” Nelson said in a press release. “However, we continue to see violations of this important law to this day. We look forward to working with the respondents to expand access that is so critically needed, especially in our rural areas.”
Attorneys representing FHCCI in the enforcement action were Sara Pratt of Relman Colfax PLLC and Tom Crishon of Indiana Disability Rights.
More information on FHCCI v. Property Management & Maintenance, LLC (PMM), et al., can be found online.