Occupancy Policy Leads to Discrimination Charge

The owners and managers of 23 rental properties in Mississippi recently agreed to pay $27,000 to settle allegations of housing discrimination against families with children.

The lawsuit, filed by the Justice Department in 2011, alleged that the community violated federal fair housing law by refusing to rent a three-bedroom home to a woman with four children because she had “too many children” under the community’s occupancy policy. The suit also alleged that by setting a lower maximum number of children than adults who could reside in each home, the community engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination or denied rights protected by the Fair Housing Act to a group of persons.

The settlement requires the community to pay $20,000 to the family and a $7,000 civil penalty. In addition, the owners and managers agreed to adopt a nondiscriminatory occupancy policy of two persons per bedroom and receive fair housing training.

“Housing providers have an obligation to ensure that their occupancy standards do not violate a family’s housing rights,” John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “HUD and the Department of Justice are committed to taking action against anyone who unlawfully denies housing to families because of the number of children in their family.”

Source: U.S. Department of Justice



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