In a statement issued last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it resolved a familial status Fair Housing Act (FHA) case from Maine for $18,000.
The case, stated by a fair housing tester group, began when fair housing testers – who were posing as parents with children – followed up on advertising indicating that children were not allowed and asserted those ads were discriminatory. In addition to the advertisements, it was alleged the property owner and agent refused to negotiate rental terms as well as made discriminatory statements to the testers posing as parents. HUD’s consent order concludes an October 2018 charge of discrimination against the property owner and real estate agent.
As is typical in these types of cases, in addition to the $18,000 payment, the Respondents agreed to undergo fair housing training.
The takeaway here for professional apartment management includes that: (a) fair housing testers are out there, trolling the internet looking for advertising that might (again, might) violate the FHA; (b) if you think your ad comes close to the line, have it reviewed by a lawyer like me. Otherwise, you could end up as a Respondent in a fair housing matter and then you will really need a lawyer like me.
Are there times when a property owner simply does not want children at an apartment community or home? Sure. But I also have seen many circumstances in which the management company and/or leasing agent is concerned about safety (whether it is a high traffic area, limited parking, difficult stairs, restrictive swimming pool rules, or simply a perceived fear of excessive running and/or horseplay) – and those concerns get expressed in a manner such that a fair housing tester asserts that families with children are not welcome. Don’t fall into that trap. Welcome all to your property.
Just A Thought.