Federal Judge Approves $22,000 Consent Decree to Resolve Familial Status Discrimination Claim

View a copy of the consent decree (PDF)

April 12, 2004

(Los Angeles, California) To settle claims of housing discrimination, the owners and property managers of a Pasadena, California apartment complex paid $22,000 to a family that was forced to move from the complex based on the birth of their child. 

The plaintiffs, a married couple, began their tenancy in the defendants’ apartment complex in October 1994.  After the birth of their only child in 2000, the defendants grew hostile toward the plaintiffs and began harassing and pressuring them to move out, including issuing a rent increase of $100.  Later, the defendants terminated the plaintiffs’ tenancy. After the plaintiffs asked defendants to extend their tenancy, defendants responded that the baby would need more room and that the baby was an extra liability.  Alienated by defendant’s conduct, the plaintiffs relocated.

The HRC conducted phone tests to investigate the allegation of housing discrimination.  Responding to a web advertisement in which defendants preferred a “quite person,” HRC’s first tester spoke with one of the defendants and informed defendant that she had a five year old child.  The defendant responded by telling the tester that the apartments were “all full.”   Soon after, HRC’s second tester, posing as a childless prospective tenant, called defendants about the apartment and was offered a showing of the apartment along with an application to rent.

The Housing Rights Center found that the rental increase policy, the termination of the plaintiff’s tenancy, and its testing all evidenced housing discrimination against families with children.  Accordingly, plaintiffs Housing Rights Center and family filed their lawsuit in the Central District of California on November 5, 2002. “The Housing Rights Center felt it was important to bring this claim because the defendants had infringed on the basic civil rights of families to be free from discrimination and to quietly enjoy living as a family,” said Frances Espinoza, HRC’s Executive Director.

Plaintiffs recovered monetary damages and obtained injunctive relief, including an order for defendants to comply with all state and federal fair housing laws. Also, defendants must attend a  fair housing training, post fair housing posters at their property, and use an Equal Opportunity Housing logo in all advertising related to their properties. Judge Florence Marie Cooper of the Central District of California signed the Consent Decree and Final Order on April 12, 2004.

The Housing Rights Center is a non-profit Southern California organization dedicated to actively supporting and promoting freedom of residence through education, advocacy, and litigation, to the end that all persons have the opportunity to secure the housing they desire and can afford, without regard to their race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, familial status, marital status, disability, ancestry, age, source of income or other characteristics protected by law. 

Attorneys for the Plaintiffs were Liam J. Garland, Neetu S. Badhan, and Nisha N. Vyas of the Housing Rights Center.

For additional information, please contact Frances Espinoza, Executive Director of the Housing Rights Center, at 213.387.8400.