HUD DISCRIMINATION CHARGE AGAINST PENNSYLVANIA LANDLORD
RESULTS IN $15,000 SETTLEMENT
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that the owner of Breckenridge Plaza Apartment complex in Phoenixville, PA, has agreed to pay $15,000 as part of a consent decree in federal district court to settle claims that the development’s on-site manager, Morris Zelikovsky, discriminated against families with children. In August 2011, HUD charged the owner and manager of Breckenridge with charging families higher rent when they have children and indicating a preference against families with children.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to impose different rental charges and terms of a lease on households because of the presence of children.
HUD uncovered the alleged discrimination after the Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia (FHCSP) filed a complaint with HUD claiming that tests FHCSP conducted revealed that the manager of Breckenridge charged households with children more than same-size households without children. In one test, Zelikovsky told a FHCSP tester posing as a mother with a son that she would have to pay $775 for a two-bedroom apartment that had been advertised as renting for $740. Later that same day, Zelikovsky told a different tester posing as a married woman with no children that a two-bedroom apartment rented for $745 a month. In another test, Zelikovsky told a tester posing as a married woman with no children that a two-bedroom apartment was $740 a month, while telling a tester who inquired later that day whether children were welcome, “It’s just going to be higher at $775 a month.”
“No family should have to pay more for a place to live or be discouraged from living someplace simply because they have children,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is committed to ensuring that property owners meet their obligation to treat every applicant and resident the same.”
HUD’s charge also alleged that the owner and manager were liable for making discriminatory statements, including in advertisements on craigslist.org, indicating a preference against families with children, and discouraging families with children from applying for housing. One of the ads placed by the manager stated: "Winter Special Price for Two Adults."
After HUD issued its charge of discrimination, Zelikovsky chose to have the case heard in Federal District Court, where, under a consent order, the owner agreed to pay $15,000 to FHCSP and implement a non-discrimination policy at Breckenridge. The complex will also display fair housing signs in its leasing office, as well as the “Equal Housing Opportunity” logo on its vacancy signs and other rental materials.
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