A New Hampshire landlord and its property manager have been charged with discrimination after allegedly steering families with children into lower-floor apartments.
A rental applicant with an infant son complained that she was denied the opportunity to apply for a vacancy in the 192-unit complex because the advertised apartment was located on an upper floor. According to the complaint, the applicant was told that children were restricted to the first floor only. After the complaint was filed, testers posing as rental applicants with children allegedly were turned away from upper-floor vacancies.
HUD also announced recently that it has settled with a landlord who had refused to allow children to play outdoors. In addition, that landlord was accused of making disparaging remarks about Latino tenants. Families who brought the complaint claimed that the restrictions on being outside were applied only to children, and in one case, that a toddler became strongly fearful of the property manager. The landlord in that case agreed to pay $20,000 in fines, revise its rules, and undergo fair housing training.
It is against the law to place special restrictions on tenants with children. As these cases demonstrate, this rule applies not only to the tenant selection process, but also to ongoing management of the property. Common examples of illegal actions include:
Denying housing to families with kids;
Segregating families into one area of the property;
Enforcing noise rules only against families while other tenants also violate the rules;
Intimidating or harassing family members, especially if the goal is to encourage families to move; and
Placing special curfews or limits only on children.
According to HUD, around 12 percent of housing discrimination complaints are based on this form of discrimination.
Landlords who discriminate against families not only violate the law, but they also flush away potential profits by rejecting tenants who are qualified, while at the same time failing to scrutinize bad tenants who are not what they appear.
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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.