The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER
BARRINGTON D. PARKER, JR., U.S.D.J.
In June 1995, Susan Hubbard, who is disabled, rented an apartment in the Sleepy Hollow Gardens apartment complex ("Sleepy Hollow"), owned by defendant Samson Management Corporation and managed by defendant Manny Zevallos. After Samson refused Hubbard a free parking space near her home, she commenced this action for injunctive relief and damages, alleging, among other things, that defendants failed reasonably to accommodate her disability, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq. The United States filed a separate action on Hubbard's behalf, making the same claim. The two actions have been consolidated.
The central issue on this motion is whether a free, reserved parking space near her apartment is a reasonable accommodation required by the Fair Housing Act. The United States and Hubbard contend that the space must be provided without charge, whereas the defendants maintain that a monthly fee is a reasonable accommodation. The parties concede that plaintiff's handicap necessitates that she park close to her apartment.
The United States and Hubbard have moved, and the defendants have cross-moved, for summary judgment on the issue of liability.
For the reasons that follow, the motions of the United States and Hubbard are granted in part and denied in part. The defendants' motion is denied.
The parties have stipulated, for purposes of this motion only, that plaintiff Susan Hubbard is handicapped as defined in the Fair Housing Act.
Prior to renting her apartment in June 1995, Hubbard injured her left foot at work and, as a result, suffers from a chronic fracture of her foot and persistent back pain. She has undergone a variety of treatments, including surgery, none of which has been wholly successful in alleviating her condition. Hubbard walks with the aid of a cane and has difficulty walking long distances.
Sleepy Hollow is a fifteen building complex that contains 215 apartments. The complex has 150 outdoor, unreserved parking spaces used on a first come, first served basis, free of charge. Additionally, there are 20 reserved, outdoor spaces available for a monthly fee of $ 34.15. The complex also offers 81 reserved, indoor parking spaces for a monthly fee of $ 66.26. The parties do not dispute that none of the reserved spaces are sufficiently close to plaintiff's apartment, although at least 4 of the unreserved spaces are. There are no parking spaces at Sleepy Hollow designated for handicapped tenants. Because the unreserved parking spaces near her apartment were typically full, Hubbard frequently had to walk a quarter of a mile or more to and from her car. Walking that distance was painful and apparently risked further injury to her foot.
Within a month after moving into Sleepy Hollow, Hubbard requested, through a series of letters, a reserved parking space near her apartment. On July 18, 1995, Hubbard, through her attorney, wrote to Samson requesting a parking space located near her apartment, explaining that she needed the space on account of her physical condition. On August 11, 1995, the defendants informed Hubbard that she could avail herself either of the unreserved free parking or pay for one of the reserved parking spaces. On August 31, 1995, Hubbard's attorney responded, reiterating Hubbard's request for a parking space near her apartment and stating explicitly that she needed such a space due to her disability. Enclosed with the letter was a copy of the regulation, 24 C.F.R. § 100.204(b), relating to a landlord's responsibility to make reasonable accommodations for a handicapped tenant. On October 6, 1995, Hubbard's attorney, having received no response to the August 31 letter, renewed the request.
On December 2, 1995, defendants offered to designate the parking space closest to Hubbard's apartment for her sole use, provided that she pay the customary monthly fee for reserved spaces of $ 34.15, along with a security deposit. On December 21, 1995, Hubbard rejected defendants' offer. Subsequently, defendants offered to establish three parking spaces designated "handicapped" at different locations throughout the complex. None of these parking spaces was as close to Hubbard's apartment as the space that she desired and which defendants offered to reserve for her on a fee paid basis.
After a hearing, this Court denied Hubbard's request for a preliminary injunction. Thereafter, defendants designated a space for Hubbard's sole use and Hubbard paid the monthly fee of $ 34.15 applicable to outdoor, reserved spaces. Hubbard agreed to pay for the parking space without prejudice to her claim that defendants were required by law to provide a space without charge. In August 1996, Hubbard moved from Sleepy Hollow.
On October 4, 1996, HUD, after investigating Hubbard's complaint, issued a Determination of Reasonable Cause and Charge of Discrimination, contending that the defendants engaged in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Fair Housing Act. 42 U.S.C. § 3604. On October 26, 1996, Hubbard, having elected, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a), to proceed in this Court rather than ...