Real Estate

HUD accuses Wisconsin, Ohio landlords of rental discrimination

Charged with discriminating against resident with disabilities, family with children

The Department of Housing and Urban Development accused several landlords of discriminating against people with disabilities and families with children, both of which are violations of the Fair Housing Act.

HUD filed separate charges against each landlord. The first of the allegations are against Chuck and Lynn Hietpas, the owners of a three-bedroom duplex in Wisconsin, for allegedly refusing to rent to a family because they have children.

According to HUD, a couple filed a complaint stating that their rental application had been denied because they have five children. HUD reviewed the case and found that the rental unit in question is large enough for the family, as stipulated by local building codes. Additionally, three of the children would have only lived in the unit part-time.

Nevertheless, the family’s rental application was allegedly denied. The family claims that when they checked on the status of their application, they were told one of the property owners was not comfortable with five children living in the unit.

The property owners also allegedly told the couple that they were concerned over the cleanliness of the unit with that many people living there and were also worried that items in the unit would be damaged.

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to deny or limit housing because a family has children under the age of 18 and to make statements that discriminate against families with children.

Therefore, HUD is charging the landlords with violating the Fair Housing Act.

“Denying rental opportunities to families simply because they have children not only robs them of the chance to obtain the housing they need, but it also violates the law,” said Anna María Farías, HUD assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “HUD will continue working to ensure that property owners and housing providers meet their obligation to treat all applicants the same.”

Paul Compton, HUD’s general counsel, added: “Assuming that families with children make bad tenants is an unlawful stereotype. When a housing provider refuses to rent to a family because the family has children, the refusal violates the Fair Housing Act.”

In a separate case, HUD charged Ohio landlords Heathermoor II and Valhalla Management & Real Estate with discrimination for refusing the request of a resident with disabilities to have a designated parking space.

HUD alleges that the owners of Heathermoor II Apartments in Weirton, West Virginia, refused to provide a designated parking space to a resident with disabilities, despite the woman providing medical documentation that proved her need to be accommodated.

As a result of the landlords’ alleged refusal to accommodate the woman, she and her children were forced to move to a different complex.

The Fair Housing Act also prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices.

Consequently, HUD is charging the Ohio landlords with violating the Fair Housing Act.

“When a resident needs a designated parking space as an accommodation for her disability and providing one will not be an undue burden or fundamental alteration, a housing provider must do so,” Compton said. “We want housing providers to know what their legal responsibilities are and to follow them. If they don’t, we will bring charges like this one.”

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