WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging housing providers in Georgia, Louisiana, and New Hampshire with violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against families with children.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against families with children, including denying or limiting housing to families because they have children under the age of 18, making discriminatory statements, and imposing rules or policies that discriminate against families with children.
“Families with children have the same rights as any other American,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The enforcement actions we are taking today signal HUD’s commitment to ensuring that housing providers meet their obligation to treat all applicants and residents the same.”
HUD is charging Peachtree Court Homeowners Association, Inc., with denying a family’s request to have play equipment for their children in their backyard. The family had requested permission to construct a playset but the request was denied. Subsequently, the family attached a slide to the rear deck of the home. When the Association learned about the slide, they sent the family a letter stating that the slide had to be removed. The Board of Directors also levied fines against the family for unauthorized improvements that totaled $2,300 and prevented the family from using some community amenities, including the community pool.
HUD is charging the owner of a three-unit rental property in New Orleans with violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against families with children. The case came to HUD’s attention when the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agency, filed a complaint after seeing a classified ad the owner placed on Craigslist. A fair housing tester posing as a married father with eight-month-old twins sent an email to the owner inquiring about the apartment. After a friend of the owner showed the tester the unit, the owner sent the tester an email allegedly stating, “I’m not sure the combo with the two young babies and the vacation rental next door is the best fit…I have only gotten a few complaints from long-term tenants over the years, but I am concerned that with two young kids you could be complaining more than that and I don’t want to get the wrong tenants in the house.”
HUD is charging the owner of an apartment in West Keene, New Hampshire, with housing discrimination for allegedly refusing to rent the unit to families with children. The case came to HUD’s attention when a married couple filed a complaint alleging that the owner denied them the opportunity to rent the apartment. The charge alleges that the couple first learned about the unit when they saw an ad for a “huge” apartment in West Keene. The wife contacted the owner to inquire about the unit, but when she told him that she was looking for an apartment for herself, her husband, and her children, the owner allegedly told her that “he was not interested in renting to anyone with children,” and that he “just evicted a family with children because they were too loud.” The charge further alleges that a tester with New Hampshire Legal Assistance, another HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agency, also contacted the owner and was told that the previous tenants who were evicted had three “messy” children, and that he would like to rent the apartment to a husband and wife or a single person. The owner ultimately rented the apartment to two women who did not have children.
The charges will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, damages may be awarded to the complainants.
Any person who believes she or he has experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.
For more information on this press release, go to http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2016/HUDNo_16-168.