Avoid Committing Seven Deadly Fair Housing Sins

With the January 2013 issue of Fair Housing Coach, we begin a two-part lesson on the deadly sins of fair housing law. Among the sins is racial discrimination. Though it’s been outlawed for more than 40 years, federal officials continue to pursue complaints against communities accused of denying housing to African-American prospects because of their race.

Example: In September 2012, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the owner and operator of an Alabama mobile home park for alleged discrimination against African Americans.

The complaint alleged that an African-American woman purchased a mobile home for herself and family members, but that she had to apply to rent the space on which the home was located at the park. According to the woman, she filled out an application with the park’s property manager and provided additional information, but her application was denied and she had to move the home to another park.

Six months later, the woman said that she got a visit from the property manager, who no longer worked at the park. Allegedly, the former manager told her that her application was never processed because the owner told park managers not to rent to African Americans. Two other former employees confirmed that the owner instructed property managers not to rent to African-American applicants at any of the mobile home parks he owned in Alabama and Georgia.

The woman filed a complaint with HUD, which after an investigation turned the case over to the Justice Department. The case is now pending in federal court [U.S. v. Lawrence Properties, Inc., September 2012].

For more on the seven deadly fair housing sins, see our January 2013 lesson, “Deadly Fair Housing Sins: Old and New,” available on our homepage or in our online Archive.