Georgia Landlord, Rental Agent Discriminated Against Interracial Couple

Earlier this month, a state court judge ruled that a Georgia rental property owner and a rental agent violated state fair housing law by refusing to rent to an interracial couple, according to an announcement by Attorney General Sam Olens.

According to the complaint, the couple attempted to rent a house located in Eatonton, Ga., in August 2009. Allegedly, the owner’s rental agent initially met only with the wife and agreed to rent the property to her and her husband. Once it was discovered that the husband was African American, however, the rental agent allegedly told the wife that the owner would not rent to an interracial couple and refused to rent the house to them.

The wife filed a complaint with the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity (GCEO), claiming that the owner and rental agent violated state fair housing law by refusing to rent a dwelling to a person because of race. After the GCEO found reasonable cause to believe that a discriminatory housing practice had occurred, the Attorney General’s Office filed the lawsuit.

After a bench trial, the judge ruled that the realtor violated state fair housing law, and that the owner was vicariously liable for her actions. The judge awarded the wife $5,000 in damages and imposed a $3,000 civil penalty to be paid to the State of Georgia.

“Not only is racial discrimination immoral, it is against the law,” Olens said in a statement. “My office is fully committed to enforcing Georgia’s Fair Housing Act to protect Georgia citizens from discriminatory housing practices.”

Source: Georgia Attorney General’s Office