Sunday, June 07, 2015

Maine Non-Profit Law Firm Conducts Fair Housing 'Sting', Using Testers, Audio Recording To Gather Evidence Of Discrimination Against Families w/ Kids & Uses It To Squeeze Settlement Worth About $15K Out Of Local Landlord

In Winthrop, Maine, WABI-TV Channel 5 reports:
  • The owners of three apartment complexes in the Winthrop area have agreed to pay $5,000 to settle claims they refused to rent to families with children.

    Jane and Donald Belanger will pay the money to Pine Tree Legal Assistance, a non-profit organization for fair housing.

    Officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development say the Belangers posted an ad for an apartment saying it was best for single people and couples with no children. An investigation also found they held security deposits for tenants with families, but not others.(1)

    As part of the agreement, the Belangers will also return security deposits and partial rent payments to families, hold two apartments just for families and fund two summer camp scholarships at the YMCA.

    In all the agreement is valued [at] about $15,000.
Source: Winthrop Landlords Reach Deal Over Claims of Refusing to Rent to Families with Kids.

Go here for the Voluntary Compliance Agreement Between Pine Tree Legal Assistance Inc. and Jane S. and Donald J. Belanger.

(1) According to the Voluntary Compliance Agreement, the Complainant, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, assigned fair housing testers to gather their evidence in this case. It alleged that the tester who claimed to have children was not provided with application materials, but the tester who claimed not to have children was provided an application and pressed to apply. It supported these allegations with an audio recording. Landlord denied allegations, but agreed to, among a slew of other things, certify that rental apartments have been de-leaded or do not need to be de-leaded, and to pay Pine Tree Legal a total of $5,000 in damages (in 12-monthly payments) for frustration of mission and diversion of resources. See, generally:

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