NFHA: N.C. Landlord's Age-Based Policies Discriminated Against Families
The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) recently announced a settlement agreement with the owner of a 165-unit community in North Carolina to resolve allegations of discrimination against families with children. The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by NFHA, alleging that the company enforced a policy that prohibited any occupant under the age of 18 in its properties, in violation of the federal, state, and local fair housing law.
NFHA says the case arose in January 2019, when NFHA staff received a complaint that the owner advertised and operated the property as an adults-only community. According to NFHA, the company’s website stated that it was “a multi-professional adult living community” and that occupants must be “30 years or older.”
Based on the results of an investigation using fair housing testers, NFHA claimed that the community enforced—verbally and in writing—age-based policies that resulted in familial status discrimination. In one instance, according to NFHA, a tester with a child contacted the company to inquire about renting apartments and was told, “We don’t allow kids to stay on the premises.”
To resolve the complaint, the community agreed to pay $70,000 to NFHA for damages, costs, and fees and to provide $27,000 in grants, which NFHA will distribute to nonprofits that provide housing assistance to low-income families in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. The company also agreed to conduct fair housing training and discontinue policies that directly discriminate or inadvertently result in discrimination against families with children.
“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been an uptick in complaints of housing discrimination against families with children. It’s more important than ever that, as schools remain closed and children and parents are urged to stay home, we fight to combat housing discrimination,” NFHA’s President and CEO, Lisa Rice, said in a statement.
“The provisions of this settlement will benefit vulnerable families throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community who are struggling the most under the ongoing COVID-19 crisis,” Rice said. “This agreement sends a clear message to property owners and managers across North Carolina and nationwide that discrimination against families with children, whether intentional or not, will not be tolerated.”