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.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Landlord's 'Winter Special' Draws Unexpected Response

A Pennsylvania landlord's advertisement for a low rent on an apartment was an attention-grabber, but not for the reason he hoped.

The Craigslist ad, entitled "Winter Special Price for Two Adults," got the owner of four multifamily buildings containing 91 apartments into hot water because it appears to indicate a preference for renters who do not have children, in violation of the Fair Housing Act's (FHA) ban on discrimination based on familial status.

The Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia (FHCSP) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which has issed a Charge of Discrimination following an investigation that uncovered evidence that the landlord charges same-size households more rent if one of the occupants is a child.

For example, the landlord told an FHCSP tester she would have to pay $35-per-month above the advertised price for a two-bedroom apartment because of her preschool-age son. When another tester asked if having a child would pose a problem, the landlord explained, "It's just going to be higher," according to the Charge.

A HUD administrative law judge is expected to hear the case.

Interesting to note:
  • In addition to a claim of direct discrimination, HUD is claiming that the landlord's offering of more favorable rental terms to households that have only one or two people is discriminatory because it has a "disparate impact" on families with children, arguing that they usually make up larger households.
Do you agree with the "disparate impact" argument? In other words, do you think this landlord should be held liable for familial-status-based discrimination even if he didn't limit the special to "two adults"?

What do you think?

1 comment:

A. J. Johnson said...

It is absolutely a familial status violation to limit the occupants any more strictly than the two person per bedroom standard unless there are legitimate reasons for doing so (lack of utility capacity, etc.) Prevention of this type of policy is the essence of the "disparate impact" theory.