A Connecticut landlord has agreed to pay a monetary settlement to a mother of two after the woman’s rental application was rejected.
According to a lawsuit filed by HUD, the single mother with twins applied to rent a two-bedroom apartment. The applicant alleges that, once asked whether she had kids, the property manager told her the unit was not ready and he would have to get back to her later. He never did.
The applicant’s mother then contacted the manager on the daughter’s behalf. She allegedly was told by the manager that he would have to consult with his partner before leasing out the unit, and that the conversation could not happen for several more days.
As a test of whether children were a factor in the denial of the rental, the applicant asked her cousin to contact the manager, posing as an interested rental applicant who had no children. The manager scheduled a property tour for this ‘applicant’ the next day.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to deny or limit housing because a family has children under the age of 18. Housing may exclude children only if it meets the Fair Housing Act’s exemption for housing for senior citizens, according to a statement issued by HUD.
HUD has vowed to make prosecuting housing discrimination against families a high priority, and this case reaffirms HUD’s commitment to that goal.
In addition to the payment of $19,500, the landlord must modify its website to be more welcoming to families with children, and the property management company must modify its leasing procedures to eliminate discrimination against children, and send its staff to fair housing training.
While it’s illegal to deny housing to families, other leasing and tenant screening policies can run afoul of the Fair Housing Act and state and local anti-discrimination statutes. For example:
Rental ads that discourage families or state a preference for professionals or adults;
Limiting families with children to lower floors or separate wings of an apartment complex;
Restrictions on children in common areas that do not apply to adult tenants;
Applying occupancy restrictions that would prevent families with children from accessing affordable housing; and
Refusing to rent to a family with children due to the presence of lead or other environmental issues in order to avoid mitigating these hazards.
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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.