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, May 21, 2011

Landlords Settle Vicarious Liability Claims in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) settled claims against two landlord-defendants in connection with a lawsuit that contends the property manager they hired subjected female tenants at their Montgomery, Alabama apartment buildings to unwanted verbal and physical sexual advances, granted and denied tangible housing benefits based on gender, and took adverse action against female tenants when they refused or objected to his advances.

Although the landlords themselves didn't directly discriminate or sexually harass any tenants, the DOJ in its amended complaint argues that the landlords are vicariously liable under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for the acts of their manager and agent, and also knew or should have known of the manager's discriminatory conduct but "failed to take reasonable preventive or corrective measures."

The partial consent decree, filed on May 12, requires the landlords to pay $33,000 into a victim fund to compensate women and $2,000 in a civil penalty. The landlords, who admitted no liability as part of the settlement, may continue their rental property business as long as they establish and follow non-discriminatory tenancy procedures, undergo fair housing training, and file reports with the government.

Do you believe these landlords got a fair deal? Should they be allowed to continue their rental property business?

What do you think?

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