Families with children restricted to apartments at the back of the property
WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 7, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced it is charging a group of Colorado landlords with housing discrimination for allegedly relegating families with children to apartments in the rear building of an apartment complex. HUD charged property owners Roger Loecher and Eileen Loecher, and on-site manager Miriam Yehudah, after fair housing testing discovered illegal “steering” was taking place based upon the tenant’s family status. Read HUD’s charge.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to deny or limit housing because a family has children under the age of 18 and to make statements that discriminate against families with children. Housing may exclude children only if it meets the Fair Housing Act’s exemption for housing for older persons.
“Families with children have the right to the housing of their choice,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Discriminatory steering is against the law and the action we’re taking reaffirms our commitment to protect the fair housing rights of families with children.”
The charge is the result of evidence from fair housing tests conducted by the nonprofit group Denver Metro Fair Housing Center. The 28-unit complex in Lakewood consists of two buildings – one in the front and one in the rear of the complex.
The charge alleges that the fair housing testing revealed an ongoing practice of illegally steering families with children to apartment units in the rear building of the complex, while renters without children were offered units in the front building. A tester from the nonprofit, who posed as a potential renter without children, was told about and shown an available unit in the front building, while a tester with children was only shown units in the back building. Yehuda also allegedly told testers without children that he tried to keep families with children in the back and adults without children in the front.
HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainant for harm caused by discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed at www.hud.gov/fairhousing or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.