California Landlords Settle Claims of Discrimination Against LEP Renters

The management agents and owners of four HUD-subsidized apartment complexes in Southern California recently reached a Conciliation/Voluntary Compliance Agreement with HUD, resolving allegations that the property managers refused to rent to or provide adequate language services for applicants with limited English proficiency (LEP).

The case came to HUD’s attention when the Inland Fair Housing and Mediation Board (IFHMB) filed four complaints after it conducted fair housing tests allegedly showing that on-site managers at the properties refused to rent to LEP persons and told Spanish-speaking prospects that they needed to speak English in order to be added to properties’ waiting lists. LEP prospects were also allegedly told that they had to provide their own interpreters.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating against persons seeking housing because of national origin. In addition, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance and requires such recipients to take reasonable steps to ensure that LEP persons have meaningful access to programs and activities.

“Individuals and families seeking to obtain decent affordable housing shouldn’t be turned away just because they don’t speak English,” said Demetria McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today’s settlement represents HUD’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that housing providers meet their obligations under Title VI and the Fair Housing Act to welcome all applicants, regardless of the language they speak.”

Under the agreement, the management agents and owners of the properties will pay $9,000 to IFHMB, submit documentation attesting to completion of fair housing training, and comply with HUD’s LEP Guidelines entitled “Final Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons.”

For more information on how your community can avoid similar complaints from LEP prospects, see “How to Avoid Discriminating Against People with Limited English Proficiency,” available to subscribers here.