Wisconsin Appeals Court On State Fair Housing Law: OK To Boot Occupant Solely For Racial Reasons When Landlord Rents Out Bedroom In His Home To A Roommate (As Opposed To Renting A Separate Dwelling Unit)
- A Wisconsin appeals court says a white landlord had the right to kick a tenant out of his house because he is black.
Michael Haller forced Martin Jones to move out of his home in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood in 2013 after Haller’s wife said she didn’t feel comfortable with an African-American living in their house.(1)
Wisconsin law prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on race. But the 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday [March 14] that the law doesn’t apply in this case because Jones was renting a bedroom in Haller’s house rather than a separate dwelling unit.
The court said Haller has the right to decide who shares his home.
Jones’ attorney hasn’t returned a message asking for comment.
For the court ruling, see Jones v. Haller, 2016AP4 (Wis. App,, Dist 1, March 14, 2017).
- In February 2013, Jones and Haller entered into an agreement whereby Jones would rent one bedroom of Haller’s home, [...], for $400 per month. Jones is African American; Haller is Caucasian. At the time Jones moved in, Haller was separated from his wife. Haller’s wife, however, came to [the home] occasionally during Jones’s tenancy to do laundry. Some time during the week of February 25, 2013, she met Haller.
According to the complaint, on March 2, 2013, Haller’s wife was at [the home] and got into an argument with Haller. Following the argument, Haller informed Jones that Jones would have to move out because his wife had issues with an African American living in the house. Haller informed Jones that he had to take his wife’s wishes into account because her name was also on the title to [the home].
On March 13, 2013, Haller gave Jones a notice to vacate no later than April 30, 2013. Jones moved out in late March or early April 2013. fair housing