HUD Charges Minnesota Real-Estate Agent and Homeowners with Discrimination

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that it has charged the owners of a house in Beltrami County, Minnesota, and their real-estate agent, with discrimination for refusing to rent the house to a family because of race, national origin and their minor children.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in housing because of the applicants’ race, national origin and familial status (the presence of children under 18).

“Denying housing to a family because of their race and national origin and because they have children not only robs them of a place to call home, it violates this nation’s housing laws,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today’s action reaffirms HUD’s commitment to taking action to protect the right of families to obtain the housing of their choice, free from discrimination.”

“Housing discrimination because of familial status, race, or national origin has long been prohibited in this country,” said Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel. “HUD will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act to advocate for families with children, and other protected classes, who are treated unjustly in violation of the law.”

HUD’s charge alleges that the owners refused to rent a 7,000 square foot, six-bedroom, house to a family of four adults and seven children because of their race (Native American) and national origin (Hispanic), and because the family has minor children.  The charge further alleges that the owner and real-estate agent discouraged the family from renting the home by offering them less favorable rental terms, including increasing the rent by $1,000.  After being denied the home, the family had to split up and live in separate residences.

HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court.  If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the family for their losses as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest.

CLICK HERE to read the charge.