WASHINGTON, D.C. – Jun 27, 2008 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged Pina and Arthur Witherington, joint owners, agents and managers of Pina’s Mobile Home Park in Daphne, Alabama, with discriminating against families by charging additional rental fees to families with children, and limiting the number of children allowed to occupy a mobile home.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a housing provider to refuse to rent to families because they have children or impose different terms or conditions on families with children.
The Complainant, a mother of three, went to Pina’s Mobile Home Park and met with Ms. Witherington about the availability of a lot. During their first meeting, Ms. Witherington allegedly told the Complainant that there were vacancies, and asked her if she had any children. When the Complainant told her she did, Ms. Witherington allegedly told her that families with children were required to pay an additional $15 a month and when they reached age 18, the extra fee would be raised to $30. In a second meeting, Ms. Witherington allegedly told Watkins that the property’s rules only allow two children per mobile home, and repeated that additional fees are charged to families with children.
During HUD’s investigation, Ms. Witherington said that she limits the number of children per mobile home because, “If you have too many children, you have too many problems.” HUD’s investigation also determined that other tenants with children had been charged additional fees.
“Imposing additional requirements for families is just as bad as not renting to them at all,” said Kim Kendrick, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Families with children should not be subjected to any extra premium on their housing. Our message to all landlords is clear – discriminating against families with children is illegal and HUD will take action to eliminate these discriminatory practices.”
UPDATE: Since this release was issued, the Witheringtons “elected” to have the case heard in U.S. District Court in Mobile.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate approximately 10,000 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice), (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing. Stay on top of the most up-to-date news regarding the Fair Housing Act by signing up for the FHEO RSS Feed.
HUD is the nation’s housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development, and enforces the nation’s fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov. For more information about FHA products, please visit www.fha.gov.