WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 19, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that a national property management company will pay $15,000 under an agreement resolving allegations it discriminated against a Connecticut family with children. A Middletown, Connecticut husband and wife alleged that employees at Hamilton Point Property Management, LLC refused to renew their lease after concluding the family of five was too large for the two-bedroom apartment they occupied for nearly a decade.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to rent or to impose different rental terms on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status, including actions that unreasonably limit rental occupancy. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is committed to ensuring that every community has equal access to quality affordable housing that is free from discrimination. Ensuring and promoting Fair Housing practices lies at the core of HUD’s mission.
HUD guidance, issued March 20, 1991, states that although an occupancy policy of two persons in a bedroom is generally reasonable under the Fair Housing Act, such a policy might in some circumstances unfairly exclude families with children and violate the Fair Housing Act. HUD’s guidance states that in examining whether such policies violate the law, HUD will consider factors such as: the size of the bedrooms and of the overall unit; the age of the children; the unit configuration; other physical limitations of the housing; state and local law; and other relevant factors.
“While HUD maintains that two persons per bedroom is often a reasonable standard, we’ve put housing providers on notice that they must always consider the size of the rooms and overall apartment when setting occupancy standards,” said Bryan Greene, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “We’re pleased that Hamilton Point Property Management has resolved this matter in a way that will allow more families with children to live in its units.”
The family filed a complaint with HUD alleging that employees at Hamilton Point Property Management refused to renew their longstanding lease agreement because there were too many people in the family to live in their 1,464 square-foot two-bedroom apartment with a separate den/study. The company allegedly maintained an unwritten policy restricting occupancy to two persons per bedroom regardless of size, claiming that Connecticut state law required the restriction. Neither Connecticut state law nor Middletown ordinances impose a blanket restriction. The married couple’s complaint further alleged that the family was forced to vacate their home under threat of eviction and had to move to another apartment that was farther away from their work and community, and which required their children to switch schools.
Under the terms of the agreement, Hamilton Point Property Management, LLC will pay $15,000 to the family and conduct a nationwide search to determine how many other families were affected by the company’s occupancy policy since February 19, 2011. Qualified affected families approved by HUD may be entitled to $3500. Additionally, Hamilton Point Property Management, LLC, will revise its occupancy policy, send notice of the new policy to all current residents, and include Equal Housing Opportunity language and logos in all advertising and promotional materials.
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.
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