Settlement reached in apartment discrimination case

Published 4:17 pm Friday, February 4, 2011

A settlement reached in a case of racial discrimination at a Clanton apartment complex will require three defendants to pay more than $15,000 among other concessions.

Chandi Biswas, owner of Rolling Oaks Apartments, and two employees, Kenneth R. Scott and Frankie L. Roberson, were accused of violating the Fair Housing Act by making discriminatory statements against black renters when undercover agents with the United States Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division visited the complex.

The settlement reached Thursday includes no admission of wrongdoing by the defendants.

A consent decree outlining terms of the settlement was approved by Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller in Montgomery.

Charges were filed July 2009 in U.S. District Court.

Evidence was generated by the Civil Rights Division’s Fair Housing Testing Program, in which individuals pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices.

Scott and Roberson were alleged to have told white testers that a selling point of the apartment complex was the lack of black tenants, and that Rolling Oaks had adopted rental policies intended to discourage black applicants.

“When housing providers make race a part of their sales pitch, they create an atmosphere of intolerance and they violate the law,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said in a release. “This settlement will make clear that race is never an appropriate selling point for housing.”

Under the settlement, the defendants must pay $15,500—$15,000 by Biswas and $250 each by Scott and Roberson—to the government as a civil penalty. Biswas must also develop and apply a nondiscrimination policy at his 10 rental properties throughout Alabama, provide all his rental managers with training on the Fair Housing Act and provide periodic reports to the government.

Biswas also owns apartment complexes in Prattville, Auburn, Arab, Hartselle, Florence, Decatur and Scottsboro.