WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 23, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) –The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged Blackacre, L.L.C. and Alishia Ritchkey, the former owner and manager of Pebble Beach Apartments, a 61-unit complex in Universal City, Texas, with violating the Fair Housing Act by imposing overly restrictive rules on children under 16 who lived there.HUD also charged Implicity Management Company, the current management company, and Pebble Beach Apartments L.L.C, the current owner of the complex, with discriminating based on familial status. Read HUD’s charge.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. This includes setting rules that discriminate against families with children.
“Instituting rules that limit the activities of daily life for families with children violates the Fair Housing Act,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act protects the rights of families to enjoy their homes free from unreasonable restrictions on their children.”
Specifically, HUD’s charge alleges that Pebble Beach’srules discriminated against families by prohibiting children under the age of 16 from being in their home without an adult, using the laundry facilities without an adult present, using the pool without an adult present, or using their scooters or bikes on the street and parking lots without an adult. HUD’s charge further alleges that residents were told that parking lots were not to be used as playgrounds and that if children were left playing “in the street” with bikes, scooters, etc. they would be given a 24-hour notice to vacate.
The case came to HUD’s attention after the Fair Housing Council of Greater San Antonio, a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agency, filed a complaint based on tests that showed that policies put into place by the current and former owners of the complex were overly restrictive to families with children.
HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge 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 award damages to the complainant for the harm caused by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages.
Anyone who believes he or she has experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple or Android devices.