A landlord in Ann Arbor, Michigan is now facing a lawsuit after rejecting an applicant who she said had too large a family for her rental property.
The woman, a visiting professor at a nearby university, sought a short-term, furnished two-bedroom rental for herself and her two daughters.
She says that after evaluating price, location, and amenities, she thought she had found the perfect situation. The apartment was within walking distance to her seminar on campus and she had pre-arranged local childcare for her daughters.
According to the applicant’s allegations, the landlord had initially indicated the property would be available, and as a result, the applicant turned down other rental options. After submitting an application, the tenant says she attempted, on multiple occasions, to contact the landlord.
The landlord eventually responded with the following email: “I’m sorry for taking so long [to get back with you], but I had to check with the city to see if it is permissible to have three occupants in this apartment. Unfortunately, the bedrooms are not of sufficient size to allow more than two occupants.”
The applicant claims that the rejection came only three days before she was scheduled to come to Ann Arbor, and as a result, she was forced to live with relatives in Detroit, and endure a long commute to the university. After receiving the email, the applicant filed a complaint with the local fair housing office, claiming discrimination based on family status.
While investigating her complaint, staff from the fair housing office spoke with Ann Arbor building code officials to inquire about the occupancy standards for the apartment in question. A representative of the city stated that the two bedroom unit could accommodate three unrelated people and any number of related people.
The fair housing office gave their consent for the applicant to file a lawsuit, which is now pending in federal court. In addition to the costs of defending the suit, if convicted, the landlord may be assessed damages or fines.
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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.