WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced that it is charging a Las Vegas real estate broker and two homeowners with violating the Fair Housing Act by denying a mother of seven the opportunity to rent a four-bedroom home because they thought she had too many children. The owners of the house instead rented to a couple with one child. The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination based on family status, including discrimination based on the number of children.
"Policies that unreasonably limit the number of people who can live in a home discriminate against families with children and violate the federal Fair Housing Act," said John Trasvina, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "HUD will take action in such cases, especially when those policies are used to keep larger families from obtaining housing."
According to HUD’s charge, complainant Mayte Miranda sought to rent a four-bedroom house owned by respondents Victor and Remi During in December of 2008. A single parent of four, Ms. Miranda was in the process of adopting three foster children. When she submitted a rental application, the owners’ agent Mario Mascarinas of Realty One Group allegedly told her real estate agent, "I do not think that the owners will rent to that many children." Upon receiving Ms. Miranda’s rental application, Mr. Mascarinas allegedly stated that the owner would allow a maximum of five children, even though the house could easily accommodate eight residents.
The HUD 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 complainants for their damages as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest. A federal district court judge may also award punitive damages to the complainant.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate more than 10,000 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice), (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing.