A federal lawsuit has been filed by the Connecticut Fair Housing Center against a well-known Hartford, CT landlord. The suit was brought about due to the landlord’s refusal to rent out his apartments to people who relied on Social Security benefits as their primary source of income or to individuals that use housing vouchers from Section 8.
The landlord is being accused by the CFHC of source of income and disability discrimination. The CFHC used surveillance tactics of the landlord by sending potential tenants to inquire about the vacancies in the landlord’s building. The test subjects told the landlord they were not employed currently and were receiving Social Security disability benefits. Some subjects mentioned their use of housing vouchers for Section 8. Neither test subjects were allowed to see an apartment. Other test subjects who related that they were employed or did not mention their employment status were invited to view the apartments in the building.
Interestingly, the landlord is the current president of the Connecticut Coalition of Property Owners. The Fair Housing Act does not technically prohibit discrimination against potential renters based on their income resources but Connecticut law does require that all landlords in the state accept Section 8 housing vouchers. As far back as 2003, complaints have been leveraged against the landlord by disabled rental applicants who were denied access to apartments based on the fact they needed to use Section 8 vouchers. The landlord was told that cash was the only acceptable security deposit method of payment. In 2009 another potential tenant was turned away because of her reliance on Social Security benefits for income.
Both of those cases were brought before the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and there was reasonable cause for discrimination on the part of the landlord who agreed to pay cash settlements to both potential renters. Additionally, the landlord was required to take fair housing training and prohibited from preventing rentals in the future based on discrimination. The tests that were subsequently conducted by the CFHC were created based on the past history of the landlord’s actions.
If you have faced and incident of discrimination while seeking rental housing due to your reliance on Social Security benefits, contact us today by calling toll free 866-205-2415 or using our online contact form. All information is kept confidential and the initial consultation is free.