WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging a group of New Hampshire landlords with housing discrimination for denying families with children the opportunity to rent certain apartments. HUD alleges that MSM Brothers, Inc., the owner of a 192-unit apartment complex in Dover, New Hampshire, and its on-site manager engaged in housing discrimination by limiting rental options for applicants with young children. Read the charge.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to families with children under age 18.

“Families shouldn’t be restricted to particular units of a housing development or subjected to different rental terms just because they have children,” said Bryan Greene, HUD’s General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is committed to protecting the housing rights of families with children and will continue to take appropriate enforcement action whenever those rights are violated.”

The case came to HUD’s attention when a mother filed a complaint alleging that she had been denied the opportunity to rent a two-bedroom unit at White Cliffs at Dover. After an investigation, HUD filed a charge on behalf of the woman, alleging that after White Cliffs’ manager learned that she had an infant son, he told her that she could only rent one of the first-floor units, none of which was available. The charge further asserts that New Hampshire Legal Assistance Fair Housing Project conducted testing which revealed similar treatment of testers posing as prospective renters with children.

Each year, approximately 12 percent of the complaints that are filed with HUD allege familial status discrimination.

HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless either party elects for the case to be heard in federal court. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, the judge may award damages to the complainant for her loss as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties to vindicate the public interest.

People who believe they have 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.