Student Housing Providers Accused of Discriminating Against Families

The Justice Department recently filed a lawsuit alleging that the owners and managers of residential rental housing in Honolulu, Hawaii, refused to rent to families with children, in violation of federal fair housing law. The lawsuit alleges that the three properties are operated as student housing for post-secondary students.

Specifically, the complaint claims that at least since 2015, the defendants discriminated against families with children by: (1) refusing to rent or to negotiate for the rental of the three properties on the basis of familial status; (2) steering prospective renters with children who inquired about housing away from the properties to a separate property management company; and (3) making discouraging and other discriminatory statements to potential renters with children who inquired about housing, including that the housing wasn’t “suitable” or the right “fit” for families with children.

The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii brought this matter to HUD’s attention after conducting testing that, as the complaint alleges, showed discrimination against families with children in connection with the defendants’ properties. The complaint contains allegations of unlawful conduct; the allegations must be proven in federal court.

“Owners and managers of rental housing must ensure their housing is open to families with children,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “The Fair Housing Act requires it, and the Justice Department will continue both to enforce the Act vigorously and to seek relief for families victimized by unlawful discrimination.”