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Landlord sued for refusing tenants with kids

May 13, 2015

Federal law prohibits housing discrimination based on familial status.
Credit Pixabay

A fair housing group is suing the owner of several apartment complexes for refusing to rent one-bedroom apartments to testers who said they had a child. 

Pam Kisch is head of the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan.

She says this particular kind of discrimination is pretty common, even though it's been illegal since 1988.

"Landlords are sophisticated enough to know that if they want to discriminate against someone based on race, they don't say that out loud. But with kids they're pretty open about it," says Kisch.

Sudi Hopper, the owner, did not return calls seeking comment.

Kisch says testers made calls to three of Hopper's properties: Parkside Apartments in East Lansing, Holt Manor Apartments in Holt, and Kelly Manor Apartments in Owosso.

The lawsuit says Hopper herself answered all of the testers' calls.

When testers said they were married but with no children, Hopper said she had one-bedroom apartments available and offered to show them.

But when a tester called and said she or he had a child, Hopper either said she had no apartments available, or that she did not rent one-bedroom units to a parent with a child.

Kisch says the Fair Housing Center received a tip, and is filing the lawsuit to get the word out that discriminating against families with children is a violation of federal law. She says it's also a violation of Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.