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.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Would the Neighbors Think?

Here's a case that shows you needn't prove a person is a racist in order to successfully claim that he violated the Fair Housing Act's (FHA) ban on racial discrimination.

A New York City landlord allegedly refused to rent to people who weren't white because, he claimed, the neighborhood was white and that's the way everyone wanted it.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently charged this landlord (and his brother, the co-owner) with discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, on behalf of two fair housing agencies, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and Long Island Housing Services Inc. (LIHS). According to the Charge, when each of these agencies sent minority testers to inquire about vacancies, the landlord repeatedly asked about their racial and ethnic background and made discriminatory statements. For example, the landlord offered what he thought was good justification for his anti-white bias, explaining that renting to a black person would lead to neighbors' complaints.

A HUD administrative law judge will hear the case.

Is the landlord's justification — that he's bound by the neighborhood's supposed desires and prejudices — valid? Or, do you think the landlord's is clearly illegal, given that his statements restrict housing choices, and that his reasoning runs counter to the policy behind the FHA itself?

What do you think?

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