FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2004
(Los Angeles, CA) The Housing Rights Center (HRC) and an aggrieved family obtained a federal court judgment against the owner of a prominent loft development in downtown Los Angeles. Plaintiffs alleged that the owner and manager discriminated against families with children. The case was resolved when the owner and manager agreed to have judgment entered against them and paid the plaintiffs $35,004 in damages, plus attorneys fees.
The plaintiff-couples lease contained a no children clause. Initially, they were told that the provision applied to children of prospective tenants, but not to children who were born to existing tenants at the complex.
About four months after moving in, the plaintiff-couple gave birth to their daughter. They began to receive hostile complaints from a neighbor that their daughter made too much noise. They were told by the property manager that they needed to find a way to keep their infant quiet or to build a soundproof room. The manager indicated that the plaintiff-family would be written up for violating their lease agreement and could face eviction if they did not find a way to keep the child quiet. The neighbor continued to harass the plaintiff-family, making comments to the effect that children did not belong in the complex. The plaintiff-family informed the manager that they felt they were being pushed out of the complex because of their familial status.
The plaintiff-family requested that their daughter be added to the lease and that the no children clause be removed from the lease. The manager refused and reiterated that there were not supposed to be any children living in the complex. The manager and the owner told them their lease would not be renewed because their child was causing too many problems. As a result of the hostile living environment and the refusal to renew their lease, Plaintiffs moved out of their building.
The plaintiff-family contacted the HRC to report the discrimination they faced after the birth of their child. As a result of the housing discrimination lawsuit filed by HRC and the family, these parties obtained a judgment against defendants in the amount of $35,004. Each parent of the infant recovered $10,001, and the infant daughter was awarded $5,001. The HRC recovered $10,001 in damages to compensate for the injuries it suffered in conducting its investigation and counteracting the effects of the defendants discriminatory housing practices.
Frances Espinoza, Executive Director of the HRC, responded to the judgment: Discrimination against families with children has been illegal in California for more than 20 years. Yet cases like this one are common. Judgments such as this send the message that the courts take a zero-tolerance approach to property owners and managers who utilize no-children clauses and other overly restrictive rules against families with children.
The Housing Rights Center is a nonprofit 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 Liza Cristol-Deman and Chris Brancart of the law firm of Brancart & Brancart in Pescadero, California; Gary Rhoades of the Law Office of Gary Rhoades in Los Angeles, California; and Liam Garland, Neetu Badhan, and Nisha Vyas of the Housing Rights Center in Los Angeles, California.
For additional information about this case, or other housing discrimination issues, please contact Frances Espinoza at the Housing Rights Center at (213) 387-8400.