Tenants win $62,500 discrimination settlement from landlord

NORTH CAROLINA FAIR HOUSING CENTER

114 W. Parrish Street
Durham, NC
Phone 919 667-0888 ext. 30
Fax 919 667-1558
Press Release

Contact: Stella J. Adams
Phone: (919) 423-4130
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 18, 2005

Agreement resolves claims of discriminatory maintenance practices

RALEIGH, NC – This week, the North Carolina Fair Housing Center and a family of African tenants announced the $62,500 settlement of their claims for discriminatory maintenance practices against United Dominion Realty Trust, Inc. (“UDRT”), one of the largest owners of apartment complexes nationwide.

The family of three, originally from Angola and the Congo, had lived in the Cinnamon Ridge (now renamed Cameron Gardens) development in Raleigh for several years.  While at the property, the lawsuit alleged, the family suffered from wretched, slum-like maintenance conditions – including multiple ceiling collapses, water running through their ceiling, backed-up and malfunctioning water pipes making the bathroom unusable, and defective insulation and window jambs that made the apartment freezing on winter nights, among other conditions. 

According to the suit, other tenants at Cinnamon Ridge – predominantly Hispanic and non-European immigrants – suffered from similar conditions, including one tenant whose non-functioning toilet was removed, but not replaced for over a month.  While the owner allegedly refused to make such basic repairs at this predominantly minority property, it offered a “Superstar Service” maintenance policy at its apartments with mostly white tenants, guaranteeing repairs within a 24-hour period.  In addition to the discriminatory maintenance practices, the suit claimed that the owner “steered” white tenants to its white properties and minorities to its poorly maintained complexes.

United Dominion Realty Trust, Inc. settled the lawsuit without making any admission of any wrongdoing on their part.

“We will not tolerate landlords who have one set of standards for white tenants, and another for minorities and immigrants,” said Stella Adams, Executive Director of the North Carolina Fair Housing Center, which investigated the claims and assisted the family in filing a discrimination complaint.  “No one should have to live with ceilings falling in, or where they can’t use their toilet or shower.  When we see this kind of discrimination, we will seek justice for the tenants.”

Beyond paying damages and attorneys’ fees, the owner agreed to require fair housing training for its employees.

The plaintiff's are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the New York, NY offices of Kirkland & Ellis, L.L.P., and M. Travis Payne of Edelstein, Payne & Haddix, Raleigh, NC.

Pambo v. United Dominion Realty Trust, Inc.
Case No. 03 CVS 13673 Wake Co. Superior Court
 
 The North Carolina Fair Housing Center is statewide non-profit organization dedicated to the creation of equal housing opportunity and equal access to all citizens regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, handicap or familial status. The Center is funded in part by a grant from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.