Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported that a Minnesota housing provider agreed to pay $74,000 under the terms of a consent order to conclude a discrimination action asserting a housing provider failed to rent a home to a family of five adults and six minor children because they were Native Americans and Hispanic as well as because they had minor children. The property in question is a six-bedroom, five-bathroom home with over 7,000 square feet of living space, two kitchens, a sauna, a sunroom, a fitness room, and a library in addition to other amenities.
While the complainants alleged discrimination based on race/national origin and familial status, the Respondents claimed the denial of housing was because the number of individuals exceeded the functional capacity of the residence generally and that 11 people living in the property would have caused damage to the home’s septic system. Our federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), of course, includes prohibitions on discrimination in housing because of race, national origin, and familial status.
Following an administrative complaint, HUD filed a charge of discrimination in August 2018, after the owners of the property declined to rent the six-bedroom residence to the family. HUD believed that the property owners and broker discouraged the family from renting the home by offering them less favorable rental terms, including increasing the requested monthly rent by $1,000.
Under the terms of the settlement, the respondents will pay $74,000 to the families involved, place a fair housing advertisement in the local newspaper, and the real estate broker will take fair housing and multicultural sensitivity training.
As discussed periodically in this space, reasonable occupancy standards can certainly be appropriate. Indeed, at first glance, 11 people in one house appears to be a bit much. Until learning that the home in question had six bedrooms, five bathrooms, and over 7,000 square feet of living space.
Just A Thought.