Rental web site to pay $15,000 in settlement

Contact: Gary Rhoades, Litigation Director
Southern California Housing Rights Center
1020 N. Fair Oaks Ave 
Pasadena CA 91101

grhoades@fairhousingsource.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(LOS ANGELES, 5/15/2002) -- Southern California’s largest website service for rental opportunities will pay $15,000 and make sweeping changes to its website pursuant to a federal court Consent Decree obtained by the Southern California Housing Rights Center. The Housing Rights Center (“HRC”) filed suit against Westside Rental Connection (“Westside Rentals”) after the website service published numerous rental advertisements demonstrating preferences based on familial status (e.g. “Children not preferred”) and source of income.

Los Angeles and Orange County landlords post over 14,000 rental listings each day on Westside Rentals’ website. Under the Consent Decree and Final Order, signed by Judge Dickran Tevrizian on April 18, 2002 (Fair Housing Council of San Gabriel Valley v. Westside Rentals, et al, Case No. 02-02283 DT), Westside Rentals must display a prominent anti-discrimination message on each of its website’s three pages. A unique feature of the decree also calls for a pop-up box with the anti-discrimination message that appears whenever a landlord attempts to create a new listing on the website. The wording of the message, in relevant part, reads as follows:

“All submissions are subject to the federal and California fair housing laws which make it illegal to indicate in any advertisement any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, familial status (e.g. "No children" or "Not suitable for Children"), sexual orientation, ancestry, marital status, or source of income (e.g. "No Section 8"). Your local jurisdiction may impose additional requirements.

If you have questions about the fair housing laws and housing discrimination, please call the Southern California Housing Rights Center (formerly the Fair Housing Council of San Gabriel Valley and Westside Fair Housing Council) at 626.791.0211 or go to the Housing Rights Center’s website at www.fairhousingsource.org

Along with payment of $15,000 to HRC, the defendants must participate in a two-year program under the court’s jurisdiction. The additional terms include: re-formatting the website to prohibit inclusion of discriminatory words or phrases; mailing a copy of Westside Rental Connection's anti-discrimination policy to all landlords in its database; stating in any advertisement that Westside Rental Connection is an Equal Housing Opportunity provider; mandatory fair housing training for the owners and at least forty employees; posting of Fair Housing signs in each office operated by the Westside Rental Connection; providing each employee with a copy of the Consent Decree; and providing HRC a permanent no-cost membership with Westside Rental Connection's rental search services, which HRC will use for monitoring and testing purposes.

The plaintiff was represented by Gary Rhoades and Danielle Jones of the Housing Rights Center. The defendants were represented by Louis Chao of Sabaitis & O’Callaghan.