The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has approved a Conciliation/Voluntary Compliance Agreement between the owners of a Sunnyvale, California, apartment complex and a single mother of two who is a domestic violence survivor.
The agreement settles claims alleging that Essex Property Trust, Inc., and Essex Portfolio, L.P., discriminated against the woman based on her sex when they refused to remove her then-husband from her lease after she obtained a restraining order against him. Read the agreement.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination based on sex.
“Survivors of abuse shouldn’t be victimized by having their housing rights violated,” said Anna María Farías HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is committed to ensuring that housing providers are aware of their responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act and that they take steps to comply with those obligations.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when a single mother filed a complaint alleging that the manager of her apartment building discriminated against her because of her sex when she refused to remove the woman’s then-husband from the lease and change her locks, even after she had obtained a restraining order against him.
The woman alleged that the property manager ultimately agreed to change the locks but told the woman that her then-husband could still have a copy of the new key upon request. The woman alleged that she moved out of her apartment due to concern for her safety. The owners deny that they discriminated against the woman but agreed to resolve the complaint.
Under the terms of the agreement, Essex Property Trust, Inc., will pay the woman $20,000. In addition, Essex Property Trust and Essex Portfolio will implement a domestic violence policy at its more than 240 residential properties that addresses the safety and housing needs of tenants who experience domestic violence, and distribute the policy to its employees and agents. The agreement also requires that the owners’ regional manager and on-site property manager participate in fair housing training.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).