Landlords to Pay $80,000 for Restricting Kids’ Play Area

 The Justice Department announced this week that it has settled its case against the owners and operators of a Fremont, California apartment building who told kids to stay off the grass.

The landlords are required to pay $77,500 to the victims of their discrimination and an additional $2,500 to the government as a civil penalty.

The lawsuit alleged that the apartment complex maintained rules that discriminated against families with children in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Specifically, the lawsuit challenged a rule that prohibited children from playing outside in the common grassy areas of the complex and provided that families would be evicted if they violated this rule.

The Justice Department alleged that the actions of the landlords constituted a pattern or practice of discrimination.

Five families filed complaints with HUD over the policy. After an investigation, HUD issued a charge of discrimination and the tenants’ case was referred to the Justice Department for prosecution.

“An apartment complex may not impose conditions on families with children that they do not impose on other residents,” said HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Gustavo Velasquez . “HUD and DOJ remain committed to enforcing fair housing laws that ensure all people share the same rights to use and enjoy their homes.”

In addition to monetary payments, the consent order requires defendants to implement a nondiscrimination policy, establish new enforcement procedures for rule violations and undergo training on the Fair Housing Act.

The Justice Department reiterated its pledge to make fighting illegal housing discrimination a top priority.

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