WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced a settlement of its lawsuit alleging that Chandi Biswas, Kenneth R. Scott and Frankie L. Roberson violated the Fair Housing Act by making discriminatory statements against African-American renters at Rolling Oaks Apartments in Clanton, Ala. The settlement, in the form of a consent decree, was approved by a federal district judge in Montgomery, Ala.
The case originated based on evidence generated by the Civil Rights Division’s Fair Housing Testing Program, in which individuals pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices. The testing uncovered evidence that Scott and Roberson, employees at Rolling Oaks Apartments, told white testers that a selling point of the apartment complex was the lack of African-American tenants, and that Rolling Oaks Apartments had adopted rental policies intended to discourage African-American rental applicants. Biswas owns Rolling Oaks Apartments and employed Scott and Roberson.
"When housing providers make race a part of their sales pitch, they create an atmosphere of intolerance and they violate the law," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This settlement will make clear that race is never an appropriate selling point for housing."
Under the settlement, the defendants must pay $15,500 to the government as a civil penalty. The settlement also requires Biswas to develop and apply a nondiscrimination policy at his 10 rental properties throughout Alabama, provide all his rental managers with training on the requirements on the Fair Housing Act, and provide periodic reports to the government.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination should call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743) or email the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. Such persons may also contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.
Fair housing enforcement is a priority of the Civil Rights Division. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt.