HUD No. 07-047
April 26, 2007
HUD CHARGES IDAHO LANDLORD WITH VIOLATING THE FAIR HOUSING ACT
Owner accused of refusing to rent to a mother because of her son's disability
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged Joy Anderson, the owner of a three bedroom single-family home in Twin Falls, Idaho, with violating the Fair Housing Act by allegedly refusing to rent a house to a mother and her children because of her son's disability.
The charge alleges that Anderson refused to allow the Complainant and her 3 minor children, ages 14, 5 and 4, to rent the property because she believed the woman's son, who has Down Syndrome, would damage it.
The Complainant submitted an application to rent the house. She later called Anderson about the property, and mentioned that she was pleased that the house had a fenced yard because her 4-year-old son has Down Syndrome. Anderson allegedly replied that she had a brother with the same disability, and that he used to stuff things down the toilet and cause problems, and she did not want that at her property. The Complainant explained that her son was not destructive; however, the owner said she wanted to meet the child before making her decision.
Throughout the meeting, the child's developmental therapist was present and told Anderson that the child does not have issues with bad behavior. She explained that he needs therapy because he is developmentally delayed. Anderson allegedly continued to talk about her brother's problems and barely looked at the child and never spoke to him.
Anderson told the Complainant she would get back to her regarding her decision but she never did. A few days after their meeting, a young, unmarried couple applied to rent the house, and was accepted the same day.
"Housing discrimination is always unlawful, but when it is against a child with a disability it is particularly troubling," said Kim Kendrick HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. This family should not have been denied access to a safe and affordable home because of the child's disability."
Housing discrimination charges heard before an administrative law judge carry a maximum civil penalty of $16,000 for a first offense, in addition to actual damages for each complainant, injunctive or other equitable relief, and attorney's fees. Sanctions can be more severe if a respondent has a history of housing discrimination. Parties also have the right to elect to have their cases heard in federal district court
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate approximately 10,300 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice), (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing.