Sunday, April 10, 2016

Non-Profit Group, Fair Housing Testers Shake $10K, Othe Non-Monetary Concessions Out Of Santa Clara Landlord For Alleged Discrimination Based On Nat'l Origin; Managing Agent Allegedly Refused To Accept Mexican Forms Of I.D. From Prospective Tenants While Encouraging A Canadian Passport Holder To Apply

From the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (Washington, D.C.):
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced [] an agreement with a Cupertino, California-based property management company, its agents and the owners of a Santa Clara apartment complex to resolve allegations they discriminated against applicants based upon their national origin. HUD alleged that the Salwasser Group, Inc. (doing business as Income Property Specialists) and property owners Gary and Mary Drieger discriminated against prospective renters by refusing to accept Mexican forms of identification, while encouraging a Canadian passport holder to apply for an apartment.

    The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in rental, sales or home lending transactions based on a person’s national origin. This includes discrimination based on a person’s ancestry or country of birth outside the United States.

    “Where a person is from should not influence the housing options that are available to them,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act requires property owners to treat everyone equally and HUD will continue to take action when they fail to meet that obligation.”

    The case came to HUD’s attention when Project Sentinel, a fair housing organization based in Santa Clara, filed a complaint after performing fair housing testing that allegedly showed that the owners, through the management company, discriminated on the basis of national origin by refusing to rent, and imposing different terms and conditions regarding government-issued forms of identification.

    According to Project Sentinel’s complaint, the respondents allegedly informed testers who offered a Mexican passport and a Mexican consular identification that such identification would not be accepted, but encouraged testers using a Canadian passport to apply.

    Under the Conciliation Agreement (read here), the owners and management company agreed to pay Project Sentinel a monetary settlement [ie. $10,000]; obtain fair housing training on how not to discriminate; and implement a HUD-approved non-discrimination policy. The owners and manager also agreed to implement a HUD-approved procedure for accepting government-issued forms of identification and post a HUD-approved fair housing poster in the public area of its rental property.

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