April was Fair Housing Month, and while HUD’s annual push to raise awareness of housing laws in the United States has come and gone, the agency prosecutes Fair Housing cases year round.
One the most recent; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced charges of Fair Housing Act violations against the owners and manager of a rental home in Nampa, Idaho. HUD’s case alleges that a married couple was refused a rental property there because they have children.
The Fair Housing Act makes it a crime to “deny or limit housing because a family has children under the age of 18, make statements that discriminate against families with children, and impose different rules, restriction and policies on them” according to the HUD announcement at HUD.gov.
“Denying a couple a place to live because they have children robs them of the opportunity to establish a stable home for their family and is a violation of the law,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, who is quoted in the press release.
She adds, “Today’s action reinforces HUD’s commitment to protecting the right of every home seeker to obtain housing, regardless of their family make-up.”
This discrimination case began when a mother of seven saw an ad on Craigslist for a rental home; after the application was completed, a meeting with the rental property manager resulted in the manager telling the applicant, “that she should stop completing the application and told her that he did not want to waste their time, as the owners had set a four-children limit for the home” according to HUD.
“The Fair Housing Act requires that all Americans must have equal access to housing opportunities regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status,” according to HUD General Counsel Paul Compton, also quoted in the HUD press release.
The HUD Fair Housing charges are scheduled to come before a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the case chooses it to be heard in a federal courtroom. The judge “may award damages to the complainants for their loss as a result of the discrimination” and there may be other injunctive or equitable relief ordered as well as civil penalties.
If you have experienced discrimination at any stage of the house hunting process (rental or purchase), file a complaint with the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).