Saturday, July 15, 2017

Civil Rights Feds Squeeze Bay State Landlord For Another $70K In Fair Housing Case To Settle 'Steering' Allegations; Recent Charges Relate To South Asian Tenants Who Were Allegedly Placed In Certain Buildings Within 8-Building, 224-Unit Apartment Complex; Similar Accusations Were Resolved In 2015 (By Coughing Up $135,500) In Connection With Renting To Families w/ Kids

In North Attleboro, Massachusetts. The Sun Chronicle reports:
  • The owners of Royal Park Apartments will pay $70,000 in a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over complaints they discriminated against tenants of South Asian descent.

    The Justice Department announced Thursday [July 6] it had reached the settlement with J & R Associates, owner and operator of the 224-unit multi-family housing complex on Route 1.

    The settlement resolves allegations that J & R Associates discriminated against tenants of South Asian descent in violation of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race and national origin.

    Based on its investigation, the department determined tenants of South Asian descent were steered to certain buildings in the eight-building complex over a period of at least five years, from 2009 through 2014.

    J & R Associates cooperated fully with the department’s investigation, which revealed that the discriminatory conduct had ceased by about 2015.

    Under the terms of the agreement, J & R Associates will establish a settlement fund in the amount of $70,000 to compensate victims of the discriminatory practices. J & R Associates also has agreed to train any new employees and to abide by the federal housing law from now on.

    Under the terms of the settlement, the federal government will not file a civil lawsuit against J & R Associates under the Fair Housing Act.

    The settlement “is a compromise of disputed claims and is not an admission by J & R Associates of any liability, wrongdoing, or noncompliance” of the housing law, according to the agreement.

    In a related matter resolved in 2015, J & R Associates agreed to make changes to its rental practices to resolve allegations that it had been steering families with children to certain buildings and units in violation of the housing law.

    In compliance with the court-approved settlement in that case, J & R Associates agreed to pay 19 tenants a total of $135,500. They also reformed practices and trained employees in order to provide housing opportunities to prospective tenants equally and without regard to their race or national origin, or to whether they have children.

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