The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced this week that it is charging a couple that owns an apartment building in Richmond Hill, Georgia, with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent to, imposing different rental terms and conditions on, and making discriminatory statements about families with children.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against families with children under the age of eighteen. Housing may exclude children only if it meets the Fair Housing Act’s exemption for housing for older persons.
“Landlords and property owners don’t have the right to deny housing to families simply because they have children,” Anna Maria Farias, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a news release. “HUD will continue to take appropriate action when individuals in the position to control access to housing fail to meet their responsibility to comply with the Fair Housing Act.”
“The Fair Housing Act generally prohibits landlords from limiting housing to families with a certain number of children. HUD is committed to enforcing the Act to ensure that families with children are given equal housing opportunities,” Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel, said.
This case came to HUD’s attention when Savannah-Chatham County Fair Housing Council and the mother of two minor children filed complaints alleging that Michael N. and Fonda W. Parker employed a policy limiting the number of children that could reside in their apartments. HUD’s charge alleges that the Parkers’ business voicemail recording announced the policy to persons who phoned looking for housing. The policy allows only one child in a two-bedroom unit and two children in a three-bedroom unit.
The charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he or she may award damages to the complainants for their loss as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order other injunctive or equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties to vindicate the public interest.SCFHC v Parker Charge_8-16-19