|HUD No. 16-152
September 30, 2016
HUD CHARGES MASSACHUSETTS LANDLORDS WITH DISCRIMINATING AGAINST FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today it is charging the owner of an apartment in Easthampton, Massachusetts with housing discrimination for refusing to rent an apartment to a couple with children because the unit was located on the third floor. Read HUD's charge.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to families with children.
"Refusing to rent to families with children is against the law," said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "HUD will continue to take enforcement action whenever the rights of families are violated."
The charge was brought on behalf of a couple who allegedly were denied the opportunity to rent an apartment because they have a 3-year-old son. The couple was also expecting their second child when they were searching for an apartment. As part of their search the couple responded to a Craigslist ad that had been placed by the owner of the Easthampton property.
HUD alleges that when the owner learned the couple had a young child, he told them that the apartment was on the third floor and that he would never rent to them, asking if they knew "what could happen to a child?" HUD's charge further alleges that the manager then told the couple that he was relaying the information "as would a father to a daughter."
Prior to filing their complaint with HUD, the couple informed the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center (MFHC), a non-profit organization in Holyoke, Massachusetts, of their experience. A MFHC fair housing tester contacted the owner to inquire about renting an apartment for his family, which included a child, and allegedly the owner stated that he would not rent the unit to the tester because of the child.
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 or she may award damages to the complainants for their loss as a result of the 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 civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest. If the case is heard in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages to the complainant.
People 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 by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD's free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov.
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