Warning: Restricting Studio Rentals to Single-Occupancy is Illegal

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Watch out for punitive damages for violating fair-housing law

Familial status-related discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) isn’t always easy to spot. But fair housing “testers” are primed and ready to root out this type of discrimination, so you’d better brush up on your FHA compliance --- especially in this specific area.

Enforcement Efforts for Familial Status Category are Heating Up

Background: Washington, DC-based Breier-Scheetz Properties, LLC (BSP) owns and operates the Granada Apartments located on Capitol Hill.

The Granada is a 96-unit apartment building with 63 studio apartments and 33 one-bedroom apartments. BSP has a policy that restricts renting the studio apartments at the Granada to only single occupants.

The Fair Housing Center of Washington (FHCW) sued BSP after conducting fair-housing testing in 2012 and 2013. Fair housing “testers” posed as prospective tenants and confirmed that BSP would not rent studios to more than one occupant.

The FHCW filed a complaint in February 2014 with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), claiming that BSP’s occupancy policy violated the FHA because it discriminated against families w


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