On Jan. 12, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) has ordered three Plano landlords to pay for denying rental opportunities based on race.
According to a statement by the HUD, the landlords will pay $140,649 in damages, civil penalties and attorney’s fees for violating the Fair Housing Act. After an investigation in 2020, the ALJ decided that agent Quang Dangtran and property owners Ha Nguyen and HQD Enterprise, LLC refused to rent to a Black woman because of race. Discriminatory statements, discriminatory advertisements on Craigslist and retaliation against the woman also occurred because she filed a complaint with HUD.
“The ALJ’s decision recognizes the significant pain and real harm that results when housing providers violate the Fair Housing Act,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Fighting illegal discrimination in housing, whether overt or covert, continues to be a top priority for HUD.”
During the investigation into the allegations, the ALJ found that Dangtran refused to show the woman the advertised room, then told her that his wife would be uncomfortable with her living in the home because she is Black.
The owner then told her that the room was already rented when the room was still available for rent. The landlords later posted a Craigslist advertisement that asked interested renters to specify their race and provide a photo of themselves.
The ALJ determined that the landlords violated the Fair Housing Act by posting a discriminatory housing advertisement, making a discriminatory statement, misrepresenting the availability of rental housing, refusing to negotiate with or rent to the woman because of her race and retaliating against her because she filed a housing discrimination complaint.
The ALJ ordered the landlords to pay $79,782.75 in compensatory damages to the woman, $49,472 in civil penalties and $11,394.61 in attorneys’ fees. The ALJ also ordered the defendants to attend Fair Housing Act and cultural sensitivity training, adopt a non-discrimination policy and adopt equal housing opportunity language in future advertisements and rental documents.