INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 17, 2009, 02:21 PM

ND company sued over fees for companion dogs

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A nonprofit advocacy group has sued a Fargo property management business, saying the company illegally charged tenants extra fees for keeping dogs they needed for their health or therapy.

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A nonprofit advocacy group has sued a Fargo property management business, saying the company illegally charged tenants extra fees for keeping dogs they needed for their health or therapy.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court by the Bismarck-based Fair Housing of the Dakotas accuses Goldmark Property Management of a "pattern of discrimination" in charging the tenants higher rents and assessing fees.

The lawsuit seeks class action status on behalf of tenants dating back to June 16, 2007, and unspecified damages for what it says are a loss of housing opportunities, emotional distress and mental anguish.

Goldmark Property Management President Brad Williams said he could not comment until he had a chance to review the allegations.

The lawsuit cites two cases in which it says the company charged extra fees and higher monthly rents to tenants with dogs in violation of state and federal housing laws.

It says one Fargo woman, whose small dog helps alleviate her anxiety and loneliness, was charged a nonrefundable fee of $200 as well as $20 in extra monthly rent. Another woman who sought a companion dog to walk so she could relieve pain and stiffness in her joints was told she would have to pay a nonrefundable deposit of $200 as well $20 more in monthly rent and a $35 verification fee, the lawsuit said.

Amy S. Nelson, executive director of Fair Housing of the Dakotas, said housing providers have the right to charge for damage and request proof that a person is disabled and needs an animal for that disability.

"They just can't charge those upfront fees," she said.

Tags: