Fair Housing vs. Unfair Housing

Do you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between fair housing and unfair housing isn't as obvious as you might think. This blog aims to present a variety of important and interesting fair housing issues.

If you're an apartment professional, avoid costly mistakes by reading the stories of others who — even with good intentions — learned compliance lessons the hard way. (For the easy way, click here.)

If you live in an apartment, get familiar with your rights when it comes to housing discrimination, as well as your options for seeking justice.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Montana Landlords Now Have 33,000 Reasons to Rent to Teens

Little did the husband-and-wife team that owned and managed an eight-unit Montana apartment building suspect that their refusal to rent to a family with a teenage daughter would become a federal case. Apparently, they weren't aware that the Fair Housing Act bans discrimination based on familial status, which means discriminating based on the presence of any children under 18 is illegal.

According to the
Department of Justice's complaint, one of the landlords had "expressed concern that teenagers like to entertain friends and cause noise, and that the older residents at the subject property would not tolerate noise." Despite assurances from the prospect, the landlord declined to show the apartment, instead advising her to "seek housing that was better suited for her daughter."

Without admitting liability, the landlords
settled the lawsuit on July 16, 2008, agreeing to pay $33,000 — $3,834 to the aggrieved prospect, $6,666 to her attorney, $7,500 to the state fair housing agency, and $15,000 to the agency's attorney. (The landlords will also attend fair housing training, develop nondiscrimination policies, and file annual progress reports, in connection with the consent order.)

Interesting to note:

After HUD issued its charge of discrimination on March 29, 2007 that the landlords had discriminated, the landlords reportedly rejected a $4,000 settlement, claiming that "$4,000 was too much."

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