Community to Pay $150K to Settle Suit Involving Occupancy Limits

Last week, the Justice Department announced that a Florida condominium association and its former management company have agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a fair housing claim alleging that they enforced occupancy limits that discriminated against families with children.

The lawsuit arose from a HUD complaint filed by a family with six children living at the 249-townhome community. After the family moved into their four-bedroom unit, the defendants allegedly indicated that there was a problem with the number of people living in the home and threatened to evict the family. The family eventually moved out, and the Justice Department sued, alleging that the restrictive occupancy policies discriminated against families with children.

Under the settlement, the defendants agreed to pay $45,000 to the family that filed the complaint; $85,000 into a fund to compensate other alleged victims; and $20,000 in civil penalties.

“Twenty-plus years of HUD guidance and cases have put housing providers on notice that occupancy standards which unfairly limit or exclude families with children violate the Fair Housing Act,” Bryan Greene, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “HUD and the Department of Justice are committed to making sure that all people have equal access to the housing for which they financially qualify.”

The September 2013 issue of Fair Housing Coach, which was published before the settlement was announced, profiled an earlier court ruling in the case and discussed the lessons to be learned in applying occupancy limits without violating fair housing law. To learn more about the case—and other court rulings on such issues as whether to allow a resident to sublet, when residents may be required to get rental insurance, and how to deal with requests for assistance animals—click here.  

Sources: U.S. Department of Justice