LITTLETON, Colo. – A tight rental market is making it tough for many to find a place to live, but one woman is finding it even more challenging after claiming a landlord flat-out refused to rent to her because of her disabled clients.
After 26 years at King Soopers, she finally retired in March. But following multiple brain surgeries and a recent Parkinson’s diagnosis, she is forced to rely on the help of others. She and another woman suffering from a similar setback found that help and now live with Resa Thomas.
Thomas cares for the women in her own house under Colorado’s Host Homes program. She is an advocate for the disabled and has known the women she takes care of for years.
“We learn what makes them happy: a beautiful day, music,” said Thomas.
But her current home, which she’s rented for more than eight years, is bringing less and less of those happy days to her clients. She is quickly running out of space and needs to find a bigger home.
Thomas found the ideal house and had already gotten preapproval from a brokerage service, HousingHelpers. She was told the landlord would have no problem renting the ranch-style home to her because of Thomas’ spotless rental and credit history.
But according to Thomas, the owner of the property changed his tone as soon as he learned that two women with disabilities would be living there, too.
“They told me he doesn’t want ‘those kind of people’ in his home,” Thomas said.
Thomas said before she was refused the rental property, the owner asked her several questions regarding the physical abilities of her two clients.
“Can they eat by themselves? Can they walk? What happens if they get out and run down the street?” She replied, “They are not dogs. They’re people!”
Ultimately, the landlord, who owns several properties, told Thomas that she couldn’t have the house. Thomas said she pleaded with landlord to reconsider, noting that her personal insurance policy would cover any damage that may arise, but he wouldn’t budge.
Thomas claims the property owner violated the Fair Housing Act, which forbids landlords from refusing to rent to someone with a handicap or other protected status. HousingHelpers, the brokerage firm Thomas used to connect with the landlord, told Denver7 it ended its relationship with the property owner, citing possible Fair Housing violations.
Thomas said she has reached out to an attorney to see what can be done. Meanwhile, she continues to look for a new property and says she hopes she'll never encounter another situation like that again.
"I have to keep going," she said.
Denver7 reached out to the landlord on several occasions, but has not received a call back.