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.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Is a Bachelor Pad Illegal?

The bachelor pad is alive and well, not to mention legal. But landlords, take note: Advertising an apartment as a bachelor pad is a different story.

Controversy arose a year ago when someone at the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center spotted a Craigslist advertisement promoting a Dayton, Ohio apartment as "a great bachelor pad for any single man looking to hook up," according to the Dayton Daily News.

It wasn't exactly the ad's evocation of a certain lifestyle (posted by a company that boasts 53 properties in six metropolitan areas and $1 billion in assets) that concerned the Center, but the wording, which appeared to smack of discrimination. The Center perceived a strong preference for men without children, which would appear to violate the Fair Housing Act's (FHA) discrimination bans based on sex and familial status.

In May, the Center pursued the matter by filing a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After reviewing the ad, HUD issued a finding of probable cause in November.

On Friday, March 5, after uncovering more allegedly discriminatory ads from the same owner/manager, the Center took the case to the next level and filed a federal discrimination lawsuit. If the court agrees with the Center's arguments, it may award over $25,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorneys' fees and other relief, as requested.

Is this "bachelor pad ad" a clear-cut case of discrimination that unfairly limits choices for women and families with children? Or is it a harmless attempt to inject an image of fun into an apartment hunter's mind? Should the actual intent of the owner/manager make a difference?

What do you think?

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