Pa. Communities Accused of Posting Discriminatory Ads

HUD recently charged the owners and operators of two apartment buildings in Altoona, Pa., with violating fair housing law by posting online classified ads that discriminate against families with children.

The case came to HUD’s attention when a fair housing advocacy group filed a complaint accusing the community of repeatedly running ads on Craigslist that discriminate against families with children. Allegedly, one Craigslist ad for a two-bedroom unit read: “Not suitable for children/pets.”

After the ad was posted, the group conducted fair housing testing to determine whether the landlords intended to reserve apartments at the property exclusively for people without children as advertised. Allegedly, the owner told one tester, who was posing as a married man with a pregnant wife and a 3-year-old son, that he wouldn’t show him the unit because it “wouldn’t work out for either of us.” But a second tester, who was posing as a man with no children, was told that the unit would be available in a week. The complaint alleged that a third tester, posing as a married woman with a child, was told that having children was a problem because the unit was located above the leasing office and children would make noise and because there is no yard. According to the complaint, additional testing revealed that the owner demonstrated a preference for renting to applicants who didn’t have children. The charge will be heard by an administrative judge unless either party elects for the case to be heard in federal court.

“No family should be denied the opportunity to rent a home simply because they have children,” Anna Maria Farías, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “Today’s enforcement action reaffirms HUD’s commitment to make sure housing providers meet their obligations to treat all applicants fairly, regardless of whether they have kids or not.”