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.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Avoid "Those People" or "Live in the Projects"

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged two Tallassee, Alabama landlords with violating the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for allegedly threatening a white family with eviction after the landlords spotted the tenants chatting with black neighbors in the front yard. According to the September 30, 2008 Charge, the landlords made the following remarks to the tenants, which were captured in tape-recorded phone call conversations:

  • "If y'all want to have African-Americans to visit, we're going to ask you to move."
  • "This has never happened with any renters that we've had... It's not fine on our property."
  • "[W]e're not having those people at our property... [W]e own the property and... that's never happened and we're not going to start today with it happening."
  • "We don't want colored people on the property and if you do you should find somewhere else to live."
  • "You should live in the projects if you want to interact with those people."
  • "I will sell the house if I have to in order to get you out... I don't care if you made a complaint to HUD, you have to move."

Unless either the landlords or the tenants choose to have the matter heard in federal court, the landlords now face a hearing with a HUD administrative law judge, who may award damages for actual loss as a result of the discrimination as well as for emotional distress, humiliation, and loss of civil rights; injunctive and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination; attorneys' fees; and a civil penalty. If the matter does go to federal court, the landlord also risks punitive damages.

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