|HUD No. 18-087
HUD Public Affairs
August 21, 2018
HUD CHARGES SOUTH DAKOTA HOMEOWNERS, PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY WITH DISCRIMINATING AGAINST FAMILY WITH CHILD
Owners allegedly refused to let couple and new baby stay in their one-bedroom apartment
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged the owners of an apartment complex in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and their property management company with housing discrimination for refusing to let a couple and their newborn baby stay in their one-bedroom apartment because of the owners' occupancy policies. Read the charge.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to rent or to impose different rental terms on the basis of familial status, including actions that unreasonably limit rental occupancy by families with children.
“Occupancy policies that exclude families with children or make it harder for them to obtain housing are unlawful and have no place in today's often tight housing markets,” said Anna María Farías, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “We will continue to take action when housing providers employ practices that violate the nation's housing laws.”
“Housing discrimination because of familial status has long been prohibited in this country,” said Paul Compton, HUD's General Counsel. “HUD will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act to advocate for families with children, and other protected classes, who are treated unjustly in violation of the law.”
HUD's charge alleges that the owners of The Village at Three Fountains refused to allow a couple living in a one-bedroom unit to remain in their home after they had a baby.
Shortly after the new baby arrived, the mother asked representatives of the property management company how long two adults could live in a one-bedroom unit with an infant and was told that since there were three occupying the apartment, they would have to move to a two-bedroom unit. Though the owners and property management company asserted that their two-person-per-bedroom occupancy policy was required by the Sioux Falls City occupancy code, HUD's charge alleges that the City Code is in fact more flexible than owners' policy, as it allows for the consideration of additional areas beyond bedrooms that may be considered for sleeping and occupancy purposes. After being denied the opportunity to remain in their unit, the couple and their baby moved to another complex.
HUD's charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the family for their losses as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest.
April 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. In commemoration, HUD, local communities, housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country have coordinated a variety of activities to enhance awareness of fair housing rights, highlight HUD's fair housing enforcement efforts, and end housing discrimination in the nation. For a list of planned activities, log onto www.hud.gov/fairhousingis50.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing.