A case with difficult facts from Florida involving the Fair Housing Act (FHA) as well as other civil rights laws made the news earlier this week. An immigrant from India (who is Muslim) entered into an agreement to buy a home in an upscale island neighborhood near downtown Tampa. When the purchasers came to the house to do a final inspection and some cleaning, a neighbor walked toward the house and started yelling. The neighbor allegedly said things like “This sale will not take place!” and “You are not welcome here!” and “I will break all of your f-ing windows and I will burn you f-ing house down!” The neighbor also made insulting comments about Muslims.
The neighbor was just sentenced for violating the FHA and related civil rights statutes which protect threating or interfering with another person’s housing opportunities because of their race or religion. A part of the resolution includes a $30,000 restitution payment to cover the deposit the family lost when they canceled the closing on the house. In addition to the criminal matter, the neighbor is also facing a civil suit for violating the FHA and related anti-discrimination laws.
I know the facts here were extreme. No professional apartment management team would think of using this type of language when dealing with potential purchasers or renters of housing. But this case is a simple reminder that emotional outbursts can cause significant distress as we engage in our housing operations.
Just A Thought.