In a statement released earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced that it settled a Fair Housing Act (FHA) sex discrimination case from California for $20,000. The facts involved allegations that the owners of an apartment complex refused to remove a husband from a lease after his wife (and mother of two minor children) obtained a domestic violence restraining order against him.
In the complaint, the woman resident claimed that the property discriminated against the now single mother of two by refusing to remove her former husband from the lease and by failing to change the locks. Furthermore, the complaint noted that although the property manager ultimately agreed to change the locks, the leasing office staff told the resident that her former husband could still have a copy of the new key should he make such a request. According to the allegations, this conduct caused the woman to move (with her children) from the apartment home.
In addition to the monetary settlement, the property owners agreed to implement a domestic violence policy at its more than 240 residential properties to address the safety and housing needs of residents who suffer from domestic violence as well as go through fair housing training.
While there are always multiple sides to every story, professional apartment management should remain nimble in a circumstance in which a resident presents a protection from abuse or similar type of restraining order against a spouse/significant other. As this case confirms, management can be held responsible for failing to act when a safety concern is raised and is supported by a court order. If you are concerned about the language in a court order or are uncertain about what to do when faced with a request like this, please reach out to a lawyer like me.
Just A Thought.