WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — The Justice Department announced today that Carson City, Nevada, rental property owners Betty Brinson and Hughston Brinson have agreed to pay $36,000 to resolve allegations that they discriminated against families with children in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
The lawsuit alleged that the Brinsons discriminated against families with children by placing a series of advertisements for a single-family rental home in the local newspaper that indicated a preference for adult tenants and refusing to rent the home to a family with three children because they did not want children living at the property. The complaint also alleged that Betty Brinson placed discriminatory advertisements for another property she owns – a 36-unit apartment complex in Carson City – that indicated a preference for adult tenants. The lawsuit arose as a result of a complaint filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by the family, who alleged that they were refused the opportunity to rent the single-family home.
Under the proposed consent order, which still must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, the defendants will pay $14,000 to the HUD complainants, $10,000 into a victim fund to compensate other aggrieved families and $12,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. In addition, the proposed consent decree prohibits the defendants from discriminating in the future against families with children and requires the defendants to receive training on the requirements of the FHA and provide periodic reports to the department.
“Families should not face discrimination because of the presence of children when looking for a home,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act and its protections for families as they navigate the housing market.”
“A family’s search for housing that fits their needs shouldn’t be limited by discriminatory practices that violate the Fair Housing Act,” said Gustavo Velasquez, Assistant Secretary for HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office. “Today’s settlement is a victory for families with children and reaffirms HUD and the Justice Department’s commitment to ensuring that the owners or rental properties understand their obligations under the law and take steps to meet that obligation.”
Anyone who believes that they or individuals they know may have been discriminated against by the Brinsons based on their familial status should contact the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section at 1-800-896-7743, mailbox number 991, or by sending an email to fairhousing (at) usdoj (dot) gov
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Department of Justice. The FHA prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt/.