HOUSING, CHILDREN, AND DISCRIMINATION, OH MY!
Finding a new home, whether buying or renting, is never easy. It is much harder when others, like real estate brokers, might decide on their own what’s appropriate for you. And when they make that decision based on a protected characteristic, like familial status, that act can be illegal discrimination under federal, state, and local laws. Steering is unlawful – brokers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals based on race and other protected categories including familial status. If you believe that you were denied a housing opportunity or treated differently because of your race, familial status or other protected category, call (800) 893-9645 for a confidential consultation to learn your rights.
Our Award-Winning New York Fair Housing Lawyer discusses a recent agreement between a real estate company, two property owners (“Respondents”) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), settling accusations that Delap Realty, LLC (“Delap”) and others violated federal hair housing laws by discouraging families with children from renting certain apartments due to concerns about lead paint. This case is discussed generally below.
HUD v. Delap Real Estate, LLC et al.
On August 11, 2015, HUD filed complaints against the Respondents alleging that they:
- Made discriminatory statements to testers from an agency posing as potential renters with children;
- Altered the terms and conditions of occupancy with respect to the rental of certain dwellings, expressing a preference or limitation based on familial status; and
- Expressed a limitation based on familial status to the testers replying to the Respondents’ rental listings on craigslist.com.
Under federal law, familial status is defined as a family that includes:
- Children under the age of eighteen who are living with their parents or legal custodians;
- Pregnant women; and/or
- People who are seeking to secure custody of children under eighteen.
The Respondents denied the allegations contained in the complaints. Notwithstanding their denial, they entered into two conciliation settlements with HUD agreeing to:
- Pay $9,500 to the testing agency;
- Develop a public service campaign on three English and Spanish language radio stations in coordination with the testing agency;
- Fund a three-week series of newspaper announcements in two local newspapers, including a Spanish language newspaper, highlighting the fact that refusing to rent to families with children because of the possible presence of lead paint is an act of discrimination that violates the Fair Housing Act;
- Avoid discriminatory statements in advertising or practices in their interactions with prospective residents;
- To produce a non-discrimination policy;
- Attend and pay for Fair Housing training by HUD or a HUD-approved trainer within the next year; and
- To submit all published rental advertisements to HUD for a year.
In addition, Delap agreed to include language in its contracts with property owners stating that the owners must comply with laws governing lead poisoning. All future advertisements for any rental property owned or advertised by the Respondents will contain language stating that the properties comply with fair housing laws, as well.
As you can see, testing agencies can play an important role in housing discrimination cases. A tester can help prove allegations of discrimination. Where you live should be your choice. If you believe that you have been denied a housing opportunity due to the presence of children or some other protected characteristic, contact our New York Fair Housing Attorney for a confidential consultation at (800) 893-9645 to learn about your rights and remedies.
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