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.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Racism Again Proves Costly As a Marketing Strategy

If having no black tenants at your apartment complex is your selling point, fire your marketer. That's the message the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is sending to landlords by going after the owners and operators of a Davie, Florida apartment complex for refusing to rent to black people — and boasting about their policy to prospective white tenants.

Sound familiar? That's because the same type of racial marketing strategy was allegedly recently employed at an apartment complex in Alabama, leading the DOJ to file a fair housing complaint against the complex's owner, manager, and maintenance employee (see "Using Racism to Rent Apartments," July 24, 2009).

The owners and operators of the Florida complex have agreed to settle, in light of evidence gathered by DOJ testers that indicate the complex violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by:
  • Directing the property managers not to rent to applicants who even "appear" to be black;
  • Telling white applicants that an advantage of living at the complex is its lack of black tenants;
  • Encouraging white prospects to apply for an apartment while discouraging black prospects from doing the same;
  • Offering to waive costs such as the application fee only for white prospects.

Under the August 27, 2009 Consent Decree, the complex must pay $115,000 to identified "aggrieved persons," plus up to $25,000 in compensation to additional discrimination victims who still may come forward — as well as a $74,000 civil penalty. The complex has also agreed to have its employees undergo fair housing training and take other steps to prevent violations in the future.

1 comment:

Anne Marie said...

Wow! For as many years that myself and others have worked very hard at trying to eliminate discrimination, it is always shocking and disheartening to find that it is still taking place in our society. We still have a long way to go, but I know we'll get there. One-by-one we can turn the world around by catching these violators and bringing them to justice, along with great forums like yours that bring it to the public's attention.


Anne Marie