FHCGW press release

On May 31, 2000, The Equal Rights Center (formerly, the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington) and Abod Mohamed filed a complaint in federal district court alleging that the Carlyle House Unit Owners Association violated federal and Virginia fair housing laws by discriminating on the basis of familial status.
    The complaint, which seeks a declaratory judgment, permanent injunctive relief and damages, alleges that the Carlyle House condominium complex in Arlington,  overly restrictive occupancy policy which adversely affects families with children. Carlyle House is a 136-unit complex located at 5300 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA.
     Plaintiff Abod Mohamed is married and has four minor children. In early April 1999, he learned of a vacant three-bedroom condominium unit for rent at Carlyle House. After viewing the unit, Mr. Mohamed realized it was much better suited to his family’s needs than their current two-bedroom apartment. The unit is a two story with approximately 1,700 square feet and includes a large living room, dining room, breakfast area adjacent to the kitchen, three balconies, a walk-in closet off the master bedroom, a washer and dryer in the unit, central air conditioning, sound-proof walls, a garbage disposal, two upstairs bathrooms and a downstairs powder room.
     The owner of the unit approved Mr. Mohamed’s application and, on April 15, 1999, Mr. Mohamed signed a lease to rent the condominium unit for $1,100 per month. The Mohamed family immediately prepared to move into the Carlyle House. On April 19, 1999, Mr. Mohamed telephoned the general manager at the Carlyle House to arrange for the move. Mr. Mohamed and the general manager met later that afternoon so that Mr. Mohamed could pick up a key to the main lobby and drop off a $150 moving fee.
     During this meeting, the general manager asked to see a signed copy of the lease, which Mr. Mohamed provided. Upon seeing that Mr. Mohamed had six family members listed as occupants on the lease, the general manager told Mr. Mohamed he could not move into the unit because his family had "too many people." The general manager proceeded to inform Mr. Mohamed that the Carlyle House policy is to limit three-bedroom units to 4 persons or less. The general manager refused to issue Mr. Mohamed a key to the complex and denied the family the unit.
     Mr. Mohamed contacted The Equal Rights Center for assistance. The Equal Rights Center counseled and advised Mr. Mohamed of his fair housing rights and performed an investigation which confirmed Carlyle House’s overly restrictive occupancy standard.
     "The case indicates the difficulty of securing affordable housing in the Greater Washington D.C. area and the unfortunate fact that familial status discrimination is still wide-spread in Northern Virginia" said David Berenbaum, Executive Director of The Equal Rights Center.
     After Carlyle House refused to rent him the unit, Mr. Mohamed was unable to find another landlord who would accept his Section 8 certificate right away and so he lost the certificate. "Mr. Mohamed waited seven years to get a Section 8 certificate, and now, thanks to Carlyle House’s discriminatory policy, Mr. Mohamed may have to wait another seven years before he can afford an apartment that’s big enough for his four kids," said Lars Waldorf, the Fair Housing Project Director at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, which filed this case along with Arnold & Porter.