Apartment complex reaches discrimination settlement

Published 11:40 am Friday, July 13, 2012

Owners of a local apartment complex reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development over allegations that the complex “maintained a policy of discriminating against prospective tenants based on national origin,” according to a press release.

Under the agreement, Chilton Associates, Ltd., owner of Peachtree Apartments in Clanton, and its manager, Sunbelt Management Company, will:

•Adopt non-discriminatory admission policies.

•Develop a plan to market housing opportunities to populations with limited English proficiency in its service areas and provide translation services.

•Administer fair housing training to its employees and contractors.

•Donate $5,000 to Central Alabama Fair Housing Center to support fair housing enforcement and education.

•Donate $5,000 to a local Alabama non-profit organization that serves the Latino community.

•Conduct periodic testing to ensure that it is providing its services to every applicant equally, regardless of national origin.

These provisions will apply to 9,406 housing units at 264 properties in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The settlement agreement is not an admission by Chilton Associates of any violation of the Fair Housing Act. Chilton Associates voluntarily entered into the settlement agreement to demonstrate its commitment to conduct its housing programs and activities in compliance with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act, according to the release.

HUD alleged Peachtree Apartments required prospective Hispanic tenants to provide documentation of their immigration status while not asking the same of non-Hispanic individuals.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to impose different rental terms and conditions based on national origin, race, color, religion, sex, familial status or disability.

“Where you come from does not dictate where you can live,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Every person has the right to housing free from discrimination based on ethnicity. We are pleased that this company has taken steps to comply with the Fair Housing Act.”

The settlement stems from a complaint initiated by HUD after the CAFHC informed HUD that fair housing tests it had conducted suggested discrimination at the property.

In one test, the property manager of Peachtree Apartments allegedly asked a CAFHC tester who was posing as a prospective tenant whether she was Hispanic. When the tester replied that she was Hispanic, the manager allegedly required that the tester produce a green card or “work visa.” The manager also allegedly required the same identification from the prospective tenant’s mother and two sons.