|HUD No. 11-242
October 5, 2011
HUD CHARGES DALLAS-AREA PROPERTY OWNER WITH DISCRIMINATING AGAINST FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging a property owner, manager and management company of Creek Point Apartments, a 200-unit, low-income tax-credit affordable housing complex in McKinney, Texas, with violating the Fair Housing Act for its restrictive policies regarding families with children.
HUD brings the charges on behalf of two families who lived at Creek Point Apartments, alleging that Creek Point's ban on children playing outside without supervision discriminated against the families and forced them to move out. One of the families was fined for violating the rule, and management charged both families substantial move out fees.
The Fair Housing Act expressly prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of familial status, including setting restrictive terms and conditions on tenants with children.
"Overly restrictive rental policies targeted at children deprive families with children of basic enjoyment of their homes," said John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "HUD will enforce the Fair Housing Act when unfair or overly restrictive rules discriminate against families with children."
The charge alleges that Creek Point management sent a notice to tenants prohibiting children under age 16 and later age 18, from being outside without adult supervision. The notice stated, in part: "THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT CHILDREN CAN BE WATCHED FROM WINDOWS AND BREEZEWAYS . . . IF YOUR CHILD IS CAUGHT OUTSIDE WITHOUT A PARENT RIGHT BESIDE THEM YOU WILL BE GIVEN A FINE OF $50.00 AND RENT WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED IF THIS IS NOT PAID IN FULL ASAP!"
The policy was strictly enforced. The charge alleges that the father of one of the families watched from the breezeway in front of his apartment as a staff member sent his son indoors because he was playing outside without his parent standing next to him. The mother of the other family felt compelled to drive her daughter 10 minutes to the park to avoid incurring a fine when her daughter wanted to play outside. Management fined one of the two families and issued notices of lease violations and fines to at least eight other residents.
According to the charge, several months after the policy was imposed, one of the two families wrote to management that the current policy was illegal, and requested that it be retracted. Management refused. Rather than be forced to keep their children cooped up inside, both families moved from their homes in Creek Point Apartments. Property management charged one of the families more than $2,200 in fees and costs, and charged the other approximately $500.
The HUD charge of Discrimination 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 illegal discrimination has occurred, the judge may award monetary damages to the families for the harm they were caused by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney's fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines in order to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages to aggrieved persons.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate more than 10,000 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 (voice), or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDgov, on facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's News Listserv.