WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it is charging Testa Family Enterprises, LTD, owner of Royal Arms Apartments in Ravenna, Ohio, and the complex’s manager with housing discrimination for allegedly refusing to rent certain apartments to families with young children. HUD’s charge alleges that manager Christine Testa and Testa Family Enterprises, LTD, violated the Fair Housing Act by limiting or refusing to rent to families with small children.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination based on familial status, including preferences or limitations that would effectively discriminate against families with children. It is unlawful to refuse to rent to families with children.
“The days of routine ’No Children’ rental policies are over,” stated John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act prohibits them and HUD will enforce the law to protect the rights of families with children.”
According to HUD’s charge, a single mother of two young children responded to an advertisement for a two-bedroom apartment managed by Ms. Testa. After the mother informed Ms. Testa that she had two young children, Ms. Testa allegedly told the woman that she did not rent to “people with small children,” and denied the mother the opportunity to view the unit. The mother subsequently contacted the Fair Housing Advocates Association, an Akron-based non-profit fair housing organization, which conducted three telephone tests. During the telephone tests, Ms. Testa allegedly made statements indicating a preference against renting to families with young children and/or refused to rent to the tester based on the age of the children present in the household. HUD’s investigation also revealed that the complex had an unwritten restriction limiting families with children to units on the ground level.
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 aggrieved persons for the damages caused them by 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 fines in order to vindicate the public interest. 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 the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 (voice), 800-927-9275 (TTY).