BOSTON – May 1, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department today announced an agreement with J & R Associates, the owner and operator of the Royal Park Apartments in North Attleboro, Mass., to resolve allegations of discrimination against families with children in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
The lawsuit, filed today in U.S. District Court in Boston, alleges that J & R Associates discriminated against families with children seeking to rent units at Royal Park Apartments by maintaining and enforcing policies that segregate families with children in certain buildings and restrict them to certain floors and units within the 224-unit complex. The allegations are based on evidence generated by the Department’s Fair Housing Testing Program, in which individuals pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices.
Under the terms of the agreement, which is in the form of a consent order and still must be approved by the Court, J & R Associates will establish a settlement fund in the amount of $135,000 to compensate victims of their discriminatory practices. The defendant also will pay $7,500 in civil penalties to the United States. The agreement requires J & R Associates to take steps to ensure that families with children no longer are restricted from renting units anywhere at Royal Park Apartments.
“Families should be able to rent and live where they choose, without being discriminated against because they have children,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “My office remains committed to enforcing federal civil rights laws to ensure equality for the residents in this district.”
“Discrimination against families because they have children limits their ability to find suitable housing and will not be tolerated,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We appreciate the defendant’s cooperation with our investigation and willingness to resolve the claims.”
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at fairhousing (at) usdoj (dot) govEmail links icon or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Serafyn of Ortiz’s Civil Rights Enforcement Team and Trial Attorney Beth Pepper of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.