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, April 8, 2010

Fair Housing Month: First Announced HUD Charge Covers Most FHA Protected Classes

Yesterday, I blogged about how the Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects people against housing discrimination based on seven so-called "protected classes." In the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) first announced charge of Fair Housing Month, a King County, Washington landlord, property management company, and on-site manger will face an administrative law judge to defend themselves against alleged violations of four of the FHA's seven protected classes: race, color, national origin, and familial status.

According to HUD's Charge of Discrimination, issued on April 1 and announced on April 6, the owners and managers allegedly engaged in a pattern of unfair treatment of blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and families with children at their five-building apartment complex in Renton.

Testers at the property allegedly revealed that the manager:
  • offered the same apartment at a higher rent to black and Hispanic testers than to a white tester;
  • offered earlier availability dates and apartments with newer amenities to white testers as compared to black testers;
  • asked Hispanic applicants if they illegally purchased Social Security cards or green cards;
  • made several discriminatory statements to minority testers, including telling a black tester that she wouldn't tolerate loud parties or "weed smoking on the balcony" and that he was "one of the good ones" because he wears his pants "up on his buttocks";
  • said that children couldn't play ball, skateboard, or ride bicycles on the complex's grounds and would need to go to a park.
HUD's investigation also allegedly found evidence that the manager:
  • directed her staff to show minority applicants apartments with less desirable amenities, such as older carpet, countertops, and appliances;
  • steered minority applicants away from the building in which she lived;
  • banned her assistant from speaking Spanish to Hispanic applicants, saying, "No, no, no. None of that sh*t. We speak English here";
  • told one Asian-American tenant to "go back to India" if he can't use the appliances properly and said to another, "For God's sake, you come from a country with no running water and cook over an open flame."
Return tomorrow for the ninth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

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