HUD announced this week that the owners of two apartment buildings in North Arlington, NJ, will pay $21,000 to resolve allegations that they wrongfully rejected prospective African-American tenants.
Earlier this year, HUD charged one of the buildings owners with violating the Fair Housing Act for refusing to show apartments to or return the calls of a prospective tenant after learning that he is African American. The charge further alleged that he repeated the discriminatory behaviors in fair housing tests by a local housing authority.
Fair housing testing ” where people of different backgrounds pose as applicants for housing”remains our most effective tool for exposing illegal housing discrimination that still too often occurs in this country, stated Bryan Greene, HUDs Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. HUD will continue to take enforcement action against individuals and housing providers who violate the Fair Housing Act.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to rent or impose different rental terms or conditions on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status.
The recent settlement stems from a charge HUD filed back in June. The victim claims he responded to an ad for a vacancy. The landlord made an appointment to show the property, and confirmed the appointment minutes before, but then failed to keep the appointment, allegedly after learning the mans race.
Believing that he had been the victim of illegal discrimination, the applicant contacted the local housing office, which conducted four paired tests using a white tester and a black tester in each test.
The investigation revealed that the landlord refused to show up for appointments and return calls after he learned that a tester was African American. Allegedly, the landlord would drive by or arrive for apartment viewing appointments early in order to discover a prospective renters race.
Under the terms of the Initial Decision and Consent Order, the apartment owners will pay $10,000 to the African-American man and $5,000 to the local housing office. for damages arising out of the alleged discrimination. The owners must also pay a $6,000 civil penalty. Additionally, the owners and their employees must complete fair housing training and implement a non-discrimination policy.
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