Fair housing council, N.D. couple charging Fargo landlord with discrimination

PRESS RELEASE -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For Further Information: Amy Schauer Nelson
701/221-2530

8/27/99

The North Dakota Fair Housing Council (NDFHC) and a Fargo couple filed a state lawsuit yesterday against David and Mary Peterson, Fargo property owners, charging discriminatory housing practices.

Since 1995, the NDFHC had received four complaints of discrimination against the Peterson’s. On the basis of the complaints, the NDFHC conducted an investigation of the Peterson’s business operations. The Peterson’s own duplexes and single family homes throughout Fargo.

The investigation by the NDFHC confirmed the basis for the complaints. The complaint charges that the Peterson’s routinely deny rental housing to unmarried couples. The investigation found that when prospective tenants told the Peterson’s that they were not married, they were denied the opportunity to inspect or apply to rent the property. Prospective tenants were told that they (the Peterson’s) do not rent to people who are not married.

The North Dakota Century Code on Human Rights forbids discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, age, receipt of public assistance and marital status. This Century Code is commonly referred to as the North Dakota Human Rights Act and was passed in 1983.

Amy Schauer Nelson, Executive Director of the NDFHC stated, "North Dakota state law protects the rights of unmarried couples to find housing. It’s unfortunate that this type of discrimination is still continuing at the turn of the century."

The North Dakota Fair Housing Council is a North Dakota non-profit organization located in Bismarck. The NDFHC’s mission is to provide support, encouragement, and assistance to those seeking equal access to housing in the state of North Dakota. The NDFHC also investigates complaints of housing discrimination.

The NDFHC and the individual plaintiffs are represented in the lawsuit by Ed Dyer, a Bismarck lawyer, and by Christopher Brancart, a lawyer from Pescadero, California who specializes in fair housing litigation.