Landlords Allegedly Terminated Lease After Adoption of 11- Year Old Child

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it is charging the owners of several apartment buildings in suburban Philadelphia with discriminating against families with children. HUD charges Charles and Patricia Trucksess with illegally terminating the lease of a single mother because she adopted an 11-year old child. In addition, the Department alleges that the landlords made discriminatory statements indicating that they did not rent to families with children and that they discouraged other families from applying for available rental units by understating the number of bedrooms.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of family status.

“Adoptive families deserve the same respect and enjoy the same rights as all families in our society,” stated John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing Equal Opportunity. “HUD works vigorously to enforce legal protection for families with children.”

According to HUD’s charge, when a single woman viewed an apartment owned by Charles and Patricia Trucksess and mentioned that she intended to adopt a child, Ms. Trucksess told her that she had never before rented to a family with children. After the woman moved into the unit, and later adopted her son, the owners notified her that they were terminating her lease. The family was forced to move to a new town, depriving the eleven-year-old boy of his school, friends, and the aunts that he visited regularly. The charge further alleges that Ms. Trucksess had previously advertised the three-bedroom apartment as having two-bedrooms to avoid inquiries from families with children.

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 family for its losses and order injunctive relief and other equitable relief to deter further discrimination. In addition, the judge may impose fines in order to vindicate the public interest and award attorney fees. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages to aggrieved persons.

FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate more than 10,000 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 (voice), 800-927-9275 (TTY).

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