HUD No. 04-089
HUD CHARGES ARKANSAS LANDLORDS WITH VIOLATION OF FAIR HOUSING ACT
Couple refused to lease to a Hispanic family
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Housing and Urban Development said today it has charged two Arkansas landlords, Donald Rapp and E. Jane Rapp, with violating the Fair Housing Act for refusing to rent a house to an individual solely based on the applicants' national origin.
HUD's investigation of the complaint determined that a Hispanic woman and her daughter were denied the opportunity to rent a home advertised in the local newspaper.
The investigation also showed that after the landlord learned that the family
was Hispanic, she questioned the prospective renter about how many people would
live in the house and how many cars would be kept at the property. The landlord
also informed the prospective renter that jobs were hard to find in the area.
The prospective renter expressed her desire to rent the house and explained
that she was employed. She further explained that she would be living in the
three bedroom house with her daughter, her son and his fiance. The landlord
refused to rent to her stating that this was not the house for her and that
too many people would be living in the house.
One day later, the prospective renter asked the landlord if she could rent the house if just she and her daughter occupied the home. The landlord refused, and stated that "Sometimes if you rent the house to two people, they will move in 15 or 16 others."
The landlord later rented the house to a non-Hispanic couple with one child.
"Being able to secure housing without regard to one's national origin is one of the cornerstones of the Fair Housing Act said Carolyn Peoples, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "No landlord can dictate where a family lives simply on the basis of its national origin. HUD is committed to opposing such discrimination."
A hearing on the charges will be held by a U.S. Administrative Law Judge on
December 7, 2004 in the Sherwood, Ark., area, unless either the complainant
or respondent elect to have the case decided by a federal judge in U.S. District
Court. An election to go to district court must be made by October 5.
Housing discrimination charges heard before an ALJ carry a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 for a first offense - more if the respondent has committed prior violations of the Act - plus actual damages for the complainant, injunctive or other equitable relief, and attorney fees.
Should either party elect to go to district court, either party may request a jury trial. A district court may award the damages available in an administrative proceeding, and may also award punitive damages.
In either forum, the case is brought on behalf of the complainant, and the complaint is enforced by an attorney from HUD before a U.S. Administrative Law Judge or by an Assistant United States Attorney or an attorney from the U.S. Department of Justice in federal district court. Also, each party has the right to be represented by his or her own attorney.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.
People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777. Additional information is available at www.usdoj.gov.
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