HUD CHARGES MASSACHUSETTS LANDLORD WITH DISCRIMINATING AGAINST PROSPECTIVE TENANT WITH CHILDREN
BOSTON –The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged the owner, Laura Hazen, of a Pittsfield, Massachusetts rental property with illegally discriminating against families with children.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to deny housing because someone has children or to make statements that indicate a limitation on renting to someone because they have children.
“Treating families with children differently from other tenants is against the law," said Barbara Fields, HUD New England Regional Administrator. "HUD is committed to taking action against anyone who unlawfully denies housing to families.”
According to HUD’s charge, on Jan. 26, 2012, Hazen posted an ad on Craigslist for a renovated three-bedroom apartment for rent that was not deleaded. In response to the ad, the Housing Discrimination Project, a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) grantee located in Holyoke, Massachusetts, arranged for testers to call the number listed in the ad. In a phone conversation with one tester, who informed Hazen that they had grandchildren ages two, three, and six, who would be residing in the apartment, Hazen allegedly informed the tester that “kids six and under could not live in a building without a lead certificate.” When Hazen was asked by the tester if she could obtain a lead certificate since the apartment was advertised as newly renovated, Hazen allegedly responded that she couldn’t, that the laws were “too stringent.”
Under Massachusetts State law, before renting pre-1978 housing, lessors must disclose the presence of known lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards in the dwelling. Additionally, an owner/lessor of a home in Massachusetts built before 1978 must have the home inspected for lead if a child under six years old lives there.
The charge found that Hazen refused to rent to the prospective tester profile of the family with children under the age of six years and further that she made discriminatory statements to the prospective tester of the family with children under the age of six.
A United States Administrative Law Judge will hear HUD's charge unless any party elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may impose fines to vindicate the public interest, order injunctive and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination, and require payment of attorney fees.
HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, with its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program, investigates approximately 10,000 housing discrimination complaints annually. People whobelieve they have experienced or witnessed unlawful housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice), or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). More information about fair housing rights is available at HUD's website.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDgov, on facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's News Listserv.