Landlord settles familial status case for $10K and five years of monitoring

HRC AND MOM ACHIEVE COMPENSATION AND 5-YEAR CONSENT DECREE AGAINST PASADENA OWNER BASED ON “ADULTS ONLY” SIGN AND QUESTIONS ABOUT HER CHILDREN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1, 2004

(Los Angeles, CA) The Housing Rights Center (HRC) and a mother of a 15-year old daughter obtained a consent decree and a $10,000 settlement against the owner of a small apartment complex in South Pasadena, California.  Plaintiffs alleged that the owner and manager made discriminatory statements to families with children.  The case was resolved when the owner and manager agreed to the joint filing of a complaint and consent decree. 

The plaintiff, an African-American female with a 15-year-old daughter, alleged the owner and the owner’s agent made several discriminatory statements related to children while the plaintiff visited the property to inquire about a vacancy.  The owner displayed a sign in front of the property that included the term “Adults Only.” Also, the owner’s agent subjected the plaintiff to an inquiry about her familial status and told an HRC phone tester that the second floor unit may pose a “safety issue” for a child.  Nevertheless, the owners’ agent ultimately said that she would rent to the plaintiff because the plaintiff’s daughter was “old enough.”

HRC and the plaintiff achieved the joint filing of a complaint and consent decree in this case, which was based largely on the defendants’ discriminatory statements. In addition to the training and general prohibition against fair housing violations, this 5-year consent decree provides for a stipulated penalty of $4,000 if the HRC is successful in proving that the defendant violates any terms of the decree.

Frances Espinoza, Executive Director of the HRC, responded to the judgment: “Many property owners and managers do not realize that their statements—and not just their behavior—can violate the fair housing laws. The law is clear. Statements like ‘adults-only’ or ‘your child poses a safety issue’ are discriminatory.  Managers and owners must understand that these discriminatory statements will cost them.”

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 Liam Garland 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.

Download original complaint (pdf)
Download consent decree (pdf)