Thursday, November 19, 2015
Justice Department Sues Three Michigan Apartment Complexes for Discriminating Against Families with Children
The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against the owners and manager of three Michigan apartment complexes – Parkside East Apartments, in East Lansing, Michigan, Holt Manor Apartments in Holt, Michigan, and Kelly Manor Apartments in Owosso, Michigan – for discriminating against families with children.
The lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, alleges that the defendants refused to allow children in Parkside East, which consists of 41 one-bedroom apartments, and also refused to allow children in the one bedroom apartments at Holt Manor and Kelly Manor. At Holt Manor, 23 of the 27 apartments are one-bedroom apartments. At Kelly Manor, 17 of the 25 apartments are one-bedroom apartments. The suit names as defendants the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based corporate entities that own the complexes, Parkside East Inc., Holt Manor Inc., and Kelly Manor Inc., as well as Bloomfield Hills resident Sudi Hopper, who serves as the rental agent for the three properties.
The allegations are based on evidence collected by the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan, based in Ypsilanti, Michigan, which had testers posing as prospective residents contact the defendants’ offices and speak with Hopper about renting a one-bedroom apartment. The testing revealed that Hopper did not allow single parent households with a minor child to live in a one-bedroom apartment, but did allow households with two adults to rent such an apartment.
“Although housing discrimination against families with children has been illegal under the Fair Housing Act for more than 25 years, too many families still face such discrimination when they look for housing,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue its vigorous enforcement of fair housing laws that protect the rights of these families.”
“The Fair Housing Act gives parents the right to decide what type of apartment is appropriate for their families,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan. “It is unlawful for landlords to substitute their judgment for that of a parent, and to turn people away from a one-bedroom apartment simply because they have a child. We hope that this complaint sends a message to landlords and renters that we are prepared to defend the rights of all families to fair treatment in housing.”
“The U.S. Department of Justice is committed to protecting the rights of Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles Jr. of the Western District of Michigan. “We will continue to fight illegal discrimination and ensure the fair housing rights of families wherever they are challenged.”
The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the defendants, monetary damages for those harmed by the defendant’s actions and a civil penalty.
The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must still be proven in federal court.
Individuals who may have information related to this lawsuit should contact the Justice Department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743, mailbox number 93, or e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777. More information about the Fair Housing Act can also be found at www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing or www.hud.gov/fairhousing.