A Wisconsin landlord is facing a discrimination charge after a married couple caught him in a lie.
According to the complaint, a father approached the landlord regarding an advertised three-bedroom duplex apartment. When the man disclosed he had children, the landlord allegedly refused to show him the apartment, claiming it was no longer available.
Later, the man’s wife, with a desire to quell her curiosity, phoned the same landlord. In this instance, she claimed she had no children, and the landlord allegedly responded by inviting her to see the same apartment. She claims he pressured her to see the property right away.
After the couple complained to their housing authority, testers were engaged – investigators posing as applicants, to approach the landlord and record his responses to their inquiries regarding families with children. These investigators discovered the landlord would show units only after families without children rejected them, and made discriminatory statements demonstrating a preference for renters without children. He is accused of saying over the phone, “I’m looking for the perfect renter, meaning I don’t want a lot of kids.”
Families with children are guaranteed the same rights to housing as those without children under the Fair Housing Act.
If convicted, the landlord could face a judgment for damages payable to the victims, fines payable to the government, injunctive relief which could include a requirement that he undergo training on discrimination issues, payment of attorneys fees, and under some circumstances, punitive damages.
Last November, the Department of Justice obtained the largest rental discriminiation settlement in its history – $2.7 million dollars, assessed against an apartment owner in Los Angeles.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.