While the number of disability discrimination cases involving housing continues to grow across the country (and on my desk), we still continue to see cases and settlements in matters alleging race discrimination.  For example, just last week the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that an housing provider in Alabama and Georgia agreed to pay $35,000 to settle a lawsuit involving claims under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). The complaint alleged that the defendants denied housing to an African American woman and her family because of race and that a regional manager told line employees about a company policy of not leasing to African Americans.

Pursuant to the terms of the agreement resolving the case, which was approved by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, the defendants will pay $25,000 to the family who lost a housing opportunity as well as an additional $10,000 as a civil penalty to the United States.  As a part of the consent order, the defendants are required to develop a non-discriminatory rental policy as well as mandating FHA training for company employees.

The September 2012 DOJ complaint began with an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  HUD found probable cause and issued a charge of discrimination.  At that point, the case was referred to DOJ.  The DOJ’s complaint alleged that the defendants violated the FHA by refusing to rent a lot at a mobile home park to the complainant and her family because of a discriminatory policy against renting to African Americans. The complaint also alleged that, as a result of the discriminatory policy, the defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination. 

While I am mindful that there are always two sides to every story and I never want to prejudge the facts in any case, the professional apartment management community knows that there cannot be any such thing as a policy of not renting to anyone who is a member of any protected class.

Just A Thought.