Lehigh Valley Landlord Settles Housing Discrimination Charge
Posted by Kristina Petronko, Esq. on December 21, 2015
A landlord who owned properties in Coopersburg settled a housing discrimination complaint earlier this month after allegations that he discriminated against families with children by refusing to rent a second-floor apartment to applicants with children. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filed a charge of discrimination against the landlord in October. According to HUD’s charge, the landlord posted a Craiglist advertisement that stated the apartment was “not suitable for children due to the exterior landing and stairs."
Following up on the advertisement, the Housing Equality Center conducted testing of the landlord by having applicants call the landlord to rent an apartment. Some of the applicants were couples without children and some were families with children. According to HUD’s charge of discrimination, the landlord would not show the second-floor apartment to families with children because the “stair landing was not secure.” However, the landlord was willing to rent the second-floor apartment to a couple without children.
HUD’s charge of discrimination alleged that the landlord violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent the apartment to families with children, by placing discriminatory advertisements on Craiglist and by making statements to applicants indicating that the landlord preferred families without children. The landlord settled the charge by agreeing to pay $2,330.86 to the Housing Equality Center but did not admit fault or liability.
It’s important to remember that housing providers cannot discriminate against families with children, even if they seem to be motivated by safety concerns. Only housing providers for older persons qualified under the Fair Housing Act can exclude children. As HUD reminded in its press release, “The Fair Housing Act permits the family—not the landlord—to decide what unit is appropriate or safe for them.”
Read HUD’s Charge of Discrimination: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=CHARGE_OF_DISC_DEROMO.pdf
Read about the settlement: http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-coopersburg-landlord-settles-housing-discrimination-case-20151208-story.html
You can learn more about discrimination against families in North Penn Legal Services’ Self-help Handbook for Tenants: http://northpennlegal.org/sites/www.northpennlegal.org/files/UnderstandingFairHousing%282%29.pdf