Landlord Must Pay $31,000 After Applicant Forced Into Shelter

by Chris on February 21, 2011

A landlord in Philadelphia will have to pay $31,000 in fines for turning down an applicant with a child.

The single mother inquired about a “for rent” sign she had seen posted at a property in Bristol, PA. She was given detailed information about the available apartment. 

When asked how many people would be living with her, the applicant told the landlord that the apartment would be occupied by her and her seven-year-old daughter. The landlord responded that he would prefer to rent to someone without children.

After unsuccessfully trying to find housing, the single mother and her child had to move into the American Red Cross shelter in Levittown. The woman later was able to send her daughter to stay with relatives while she remained at the shelter and searched for more permanent housing. In the process of searching for housing, she called the same landlord, and was told again that there was an available apartment that she could afford, but children were not allowed.

The woman complained to her local housing authority, and the matter was referred to HUD for investigation.  The landlord allegedly told investigators that in the thirty to forty years that he has managed properties, he has never rented to families with children.

The landlord agreed to pay a total of $31,000 to settle the HUD complaints. In addition, the landlord will be trained in non-discriminatory practices and has agreed to develop a written, non-discriminatory rental policy to be distributed to all current and prospective tenants.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of familial status, or the presence of children under the age of 18 in the household. In addition, expectant mothers and any adult who is in the process of gaining legal custody of a child are covered under the familial status provision of the Fair Housing Act. 

Familial status has been protected under the Fair Housing Act since 1988. 

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

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.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

mike February 22, 2011 at 9:58 am

I do sympathize with the tenant. But when the landlord has to face law suits for lead paint it is not fair that either way it is too much head aches. Can the land lord require that the child gets tested every 3 months or so and break the lease if the lead level seems to be increasing.

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