The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced July 10, 2019, that it is charging Plano, Texas, landlords Quang Dangtran and his wife, Ha Nguyen, with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to lease a room to a prospective tenant because she is black. Read HUD’s charge.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in housing because of race or color, which includes making discriminatory statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling.
“A person’s race should never determine whether or not they have access to a place to call home,” said Anna Maria Farias, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today’s action reflects HUD’s ongoing commitment to taking appropriate action when the Fair Housing Act has been violated.”
HUD’s charge alleges that in advertising on craigslist for a room in a five-bedroom house, Mr. Dangtran required applicants to identify their race and submit a photograph of themselves. When Complainant, a woman who had expressed an interest in renting, contacted Mr. Dangtran about the rental, he reiterated his request for a picture or “selfie”. HUD’s charge further alleges that although the woman refused, Dangtran later agreed to meet her at the house but when he saw that she is black, he refused to show her the room, stating that her race would make his wife and the other tenants uncomfortable.
“In 2019, more than 50 years after enactment of the Fair Housing Act, it should be universally known and accepted that racial discrimination in housing is illegal and unacceptable,” said Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel. “When HUD becomes aware of such discrimination, it will aggressively pursue remedies provided for by law.”
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 complainant for her loss 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.