The Housing Rights Center has settled a $19,000 lawsuit against a Santa Monica landlord on behalf of a prospective tenant who claimed he was denied housing because he has children.
The prospective tenant, a married man with two children, filed the complaint alleging that the Santa Monica property owner informed his family that they could not rent an available three-bedroom apartment because his children were a liability.
HRC conducted an investigation under its U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department-funded Fair Housing Initiatives Program Private Enforcement Initiative Project. Through the investigation, HRC confirmed that applicants without children were allegedly given preferential treatment when inquiring about available rental units, an HRC spokesperson said.
The investigation included telephone calls conducted by volunteer “testers” who posed as prospective tenants. While testers without children were immediately provided with rental information, including the contact number for the on-site manager, callers with children were forced to repeatedly make telephone calls to the property owner to obtain rental information, the spokesperson said.
On one occasion, an HRC tester was informed that the property owner would need to personally meet his children before determining if his family could live at the property, according to the complaint.
“Denying families with children the right to obtain the housing of their choice is not only an egregious act, but it is against the law,” stated Stephanie Knapik, director of the HRC Fair Housing Initiatives Program project. “There is never an excuse to single out children.”