Earlier this week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed yet another Fair Housing Act (FHA) lawsuit, this time alleging that the owners and manager of two dozen rental homes in North Carolina discriminated against African American residents.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, names three related corporate entities and an individual that own or owned the various rental properties. In short, the allegations are that the manager delayed or refused to perform maintenance or repairs at properties rented by African Americans. Additionally, DOJ claims that the manager failed to credit the residents for repairs they paid for or performed themselves as well as verbally harassing African American tenants with racial slurs and epithets. Finally, after having made statements believed to indicate that the manager disfavored African American tenants, DOJ claims the defendants threatened, harassed and retaliated against African Americans who resisted the discriminatory housing practices.
The case began when a former resident contacted DOJ to make the government aware of the alleged conduct. DOJ reported that it conducted an investigation and then filed the instant complaint. The lawsuit seeks an order prohibiting the defendants from engaging in future unlawful discrimination and requiring the defendants to pay monetary damages to victims of discrimination along with civil penalties to the government.
As I have written many times before, a complaint still must be proven in court and we should wait to hear the other side of the story before forming any opinions as to the truth or falsity of any claim. However, what is clear is that DOJ remains vigilant and continues to file discrimination case against those in the housing ownership and management arena that are brought to its attention. Following the FHA remains not only the law, but is the right thing to do.
Just A Thought.