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Coldwell Banker Settles In HUD Housing Discrimination Claim

April 16, 2013


A press release on the FHA/HUD official site announced the recent settlement of a housing discrimination claim involving Coldwell Banker.

According to HUDNo.13-051B, ” The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today a $90,000 Conciliation Agreement with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and the seller of a home in Worcester, Massachusetts, settling allegations they violated the Fair Housing Act by preventing the sale of a house to be used as a group home for persons with disabilities.”

Fair Housing Act laws forbid discrimination in both rental procedures and property sales–including discriminatory standards or requirements based on disability. In this particular case, the requirements included a housing covenant that prevented the property from being used as a group home for disabled persons.

“HUD is committed to promoting housing opportunities for people with disabilities in mainstream settings,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.  “We’re pleased the parties in this case were willing to resolve this matter in a way that advances that goal.”

In the press release, HUD General Counsel Helen Kanovsky is quoted saying, “This case emphasizes that no one is above the law. Sellers of property, as well as their real estate agents and law firms who assist them, are all required to adhere to the Fair Housing Act.”

The details of the case included “a restrictive covenant” that was attached to the property. An email presented as part of the case includes the following:

“If they rent to a responsible family it is okay, BUT no unrelated individuals, students, dorm!  Neighbors will fight this.”  The press release also mentions the recording of a “restrictive covenant prohibiting the use of the house as a group home for disabled persons…The prospective purchaser and his sales agent subsequently filed a complaint with HUD, alleging the restrictive covenant that prohibited future owners of the home from using it as a group home for individuals with disabilities.  After receiving the complaint, HUD filed its own Secretary-initiated housing discrimination complaint alleging that the actions…violated the Fair Housing Act.”

What does all this have to do with FHA home loans and purchasing or refinancing property?

We mention these incidents here to remind borrowers that the loan applicant is often the only one who has the power to stop such illegal activity–only by reporting this type of discrimination can the FHA/HUD intervene on behalf of the borrower. You could be the only line of defense against violations of the Fair Housing Act. If you experience such discrimination, report it. The FHA and HUD aggressively investigate these claims. You can learn how to file a fair housing complaint at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/housing_discrimination

Joe Wallace - Staff Writer

By Joe Wallace

Joe Wallace has been specializing in military and personal finance topics since 1995. His work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and a member of the Air Force Public Affairs Alumni Association. He was Managing editor for www.valoans.com for (8) years and is currently the Associate Editor for FHANewsblog.com.

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