HRC Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against Camarillo Apartment Owner

Federal Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Camarillo Apartment Owner
Lawsuit Alleges Housing Discrimination Based on National Origin and Perceived Immigration Status for Attempting to Evict Long-Term Tenant With No Social Security Number
LOS ANGELES, CA- A mother of two children and the Housing Rights Center filed a housing discrimination lawsuit yesterday in federal court against a Camarillo apartment owner, Villa Caprice L.P., and the resident manager, for attempting to evict a mother and her two sons from their home of nine years because they lack a valid Social Security number. 
The apartment owner screened the family's rental application and decided to rent to them nine years ago. Since that time, the family paid the rent on time and complied with all other requirements for tenants in their building.  The mother was understandably shocked and upset when after all of these years, the manager told her family that they would have to move out within 30 days unless she provided a valid Social Security number.
The family also alleges in its lawsuit that the apartment owner and manager discriminated against them based on their familial status by implementing a 10:00 p.m. curfew for children under age 18, and requiring that children under the age of 14 be supervised in the common areas.  Apartment rules including curfews and constant supervision of children have been found to violate fair housing laws for imposing stricter rules on children than on adults. Defendants also enacted overly restrictive occupancy limitations that restricted the number of persons who can reside in an apartment. Limiting the number of occupants to an amount less than what the unit can safely accommodate is a violation of Fair Housing laws because while not discriminatory on its face, it results in a discriminatory effect when enforced. In this case, a 2 bedroom unit with sufficient square footage to accommodate a family of 5 had an occupancy limit of 4 people.   This rule has a disparate impact on families with children because they were the group that would most likely be adversely affected by such a policy.
The lawsuit alleges violations of federal and state civil rights laws based on national origin, family status, ancestry, and perceived immigration status. This is believed to be one of the first housing-related lawsuits brought under a 2015 amendment to the state Unruh Civil Rights Act that bans discrimination in housing and public accommodations based on immigration status, citizenship or primary language.
As the Housing Rights Center observes an increase in number of calls regarding discriminatory behavior or harassment by landlords based on national origin or immigration status, it has become starkly clear that an increased effort in spreading awareness of fair housing protections is necessary in bringing an end to these types of practices. Chancela Al-Mansour, Executive Director at the HRC states, “The Housing Rights Center is filing this important lawsuit in response to the horrific nightmare that many families must now endure. The sudden threat of homelessness solely because of one’s country of origin or immigration status is devastating for many hard working families and individuals.”
Other examples of housing discrimination include establishing policies or practices that have a greater impact on one particular immigrant group over another. For instance, refusing to rent to one specific group decreases the chances of any immigrants sharing the same national origin to successfully obtain housing – this would be considered illegal discrimination based on national origin. We can also look to screening processes for examples of this type of discrimination. If a landlord will be asking applicants for information to run a credit check, they must ensure they run credit checks on all applicants. If minority applicants are the only group of people being asked for a credit check, this would be in violation of the Fair Housing Act because of the differential treatment based on their belonging to a protected class. Similarly, the requirement of social security numbers of all in-place tenants regardless of the number of years they have lived in the apartment with the goal of evicting immigrant tenants can be a violation of newly passed state fair housing laws.
Individuals who believe they are victims of housing discrimination or who have questions about the fair housing laws may contact HRC for more information at 1-800-477-5977 (voice) or
213-201-0867 (TTY).

Ask A Question

image description