WASHINGTON, DC – May 8, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — As the nation prepares to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced two fair housing actions involving allegations of housing discrimination involving families with children.
In Carson City, Nevada, HUD charged the owners of a rental property for allegedly refusing to rent a home to parents because they have children.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to deny housing because a family has children under the age of 18 and to make statements that discriminate against families with children. Similarly, “adult-only” housing violates the Fair Housing Act unless it qualifies as housing for older persons.
“It’s impossible to overstate how important mothers are in the lives of their children, yet all too often, moms face unique forms of discrimination that unfairly limit their housing choices,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to enforce the law when it comes to protecting the fair housing rights of families with children.”
The Nevada charge announced today stems from a complaint that was filed by the parents of three children alleging that the owner of a three-bedroom property refused to rent the home to them because they have children. Specifically, HUD’s charge alleges that the mother contacted the owner in response to a newspaper classified ad in the Nevada Appeal which stated, “3 or 5BD. 2 people preferred.” The owner asked the mother if there were one or two persons in her household. When the mother stated that she had several children, the owner allegedly told her that the home was not for her. HUD’s charge further alleges that after the mother’s conversation with the owner, she visited the newspaper’s website and discovered the home was still advertised, but the ad had been changed to state the home was for “one or two adults.”
HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainants for the harm caused them by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages. Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed at www.hud.gov/fairhousing or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.