Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
     Plaintiff,

v.

RONALD STEVENS and BYRON ANSTINE
d/b/a KNOLLWOOD PARTNERS;
IRENE HAMMOND,
     Defendants

____________________________________

CONSENT DECREE

The United States initiated this action pursuant to Section 814 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3614, alleging that the Defendants have been engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of familial status in the rental of

dwellings at Knollwood Apartments ("Knollwood"), in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq.

Knollwood is located in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania and was owned by Defendants Ronald Stevens and Byron Anstine, d/b/a Knollwood Partners until November 2, 1998, when the apartment complex was sold by Knollwood Partners. The partnership was liquidated following the sale of Knollwood.

Defendant Irene Hammond has worked as the property manager at Knollwood since approximately 1993. Following the sale, she has continued to work for the new owners.

From April 1997 through April 1998, the United States and the Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia conducted a series of tests at Knollwood Apartments. The United States alleges that the testing evidence reveals that the Defendants have engaged in discriminatory housing practices on the basis of familial status at Knollwood. During the testing period, Defendant Irene Hammond performed the responsibilities of a rental agent, including responding to all inquiries about apartment vacancies and availability. The United States notified the Defendants of the allegations by letter dated December 28, 1998.

The United States alleges that the testing evidence at Knollwood shows that applicants with children were told that they could only rent units on the first floor of the apartment complex while applicants with no children were permitted to rent any vacant units in the complex. Additionally, the testing evidence showed that the same information given to applicants without children regarding apartment availabilities was not given to applicants with children; applicants with children were falsely told that certain apartments were unavailable while applicants without children were told of and shown available apartments.

Defendants deny the United States' allegations. Defendants contend that families with children were not denied rental opportunities at Knollwood. Defendants submitted documentary information concerning alleged rental practices at Knollwood, including identities and apartment locations of current and former tenants of the complex who reside with children.

The United States alleges that the evidence demonstrates that the Defendants refused to rent, refused to negotiate for the rental of and/or otherwise made housing unavailable to a group of persons because of their familial status, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(a); discriminated in the terms and conditions, or privileges of the rental of a dwelling that indicated a preference or discrimination on the basis of familial status in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(b); made statements with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicated a preference or discrimination based on a person's familial status in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(c); and represented to persons because of their familial status that dwellings were not available for rental when such dwellings were in fact so available, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §3604(d).

In an effort to avoid costly litigation, the United States and the Defendants have voluntarily agreed, as indicated by the signatures below, to resolve the United State's claims against the Defendants without the necessity of a hearing on the merits, which will include the payment of damages by Defendants. This Agreement does not constitute an admission by the Defendants of any violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a), (b), (c) and (d), and the Defendants specifically deny and disclaim any violation of the aforementioned statutes. Although Knollwood Partners has been liquidated, the payment of damages by Defendants Stevens and Anstine is related directly and indirectly to their current business, which was similar to the business conducted by Knollwood Partners.

After reviewing the terms contained herein, the Court concludes that the entry of this Consent Order comports with the Fair Housing Act and other federal laws, and is appropriate under these circumstances.

Therefore, it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED:

  1. Injunctive Relief As to Defendant Stevens

    Defendant Ronald Stevens, and his agents, employees, representatives, principals, executors, administrators, personal representatives, successors and assigns are enjoined, with respect to the rental of dwelling units at any apartment complex under his ownership and/or control, from:

    1. Refusing to rent a dwelling unit, refusing or failing to provide or offer information about a dwelling unit, or otherwise making unavailable or denying a dwelling unit to any person because of familial status;
    2. Discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of renting a dwelling unit, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of familial status;
    3. Making, printing, publishing, or causing to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the rental of a dwelling unit that states any preference, limitation or discrimination based on familial status;
    4. Misrepresenting to any person because of familial status that any dwelling unit is not available for inspection or rental when such dwelling unit is, in fact, so available; and
    5. Engaging in any other discriminatory housing practice prohibited by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3601, et seq.
  2. Injunctive Relief As to Defendant Anstine

    Defendant Byron Anstine, and his agents, employees, representatives, principals, executors, administrators, personal representatives, successors and assigns are enjoined, with respect to the rental of dwelling units at any apartment complex under his ownership and/or control, from:

    1. Refusing to rent a dwelling unit, refusing or failing to provide or offer information about a dwelling unit, or otherwise making unavailable or denying a dwelling unit to any person because of familial status;
    2. Discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of renting a dwelling unit, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of familial status;
    3. Making, printing, publishing, or causing to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the rental of a dwelling unit that states any preference, limitation or discrimination based on familial status;
    4. Misrepresenting to any person because of familial status that any dwelling unit is not available for inspection or rental when such dwelling unit is, in fact, so available; and
    5. Engaging in any other discriminatory housing practice prohibited by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3601, et seq.
  3. Injunctive Relief as to Defendant Irene Hammond

    Defendant Irene Hammond, and her agents, employees, representatives, principals, executors, administrators, personal representatives, successors and assigns are enjoined, with respect to the rental of dwelling units at Knollwood Apartments or any other apartment complex, from:

    1. Refusing to rent a dwelling unit, refusing or failing to provide or offer information about a dwelling unit, or otherwise making unavailable or denying a dwelling unit to any person because of familial status;
    2. Discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of renting a dwelling unit, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of familial status;
    3. Making, printing, publishing, or causing to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the rental of a dwelling unit that states any preference, limitation or discrimination based on familial status;
    4. Misrepresenting to any person because of familial status that any dwelling unit is not available for inspection or rental when such dwelling unit is, in fact, so available; and
    5. Engaging in any other discriminatory housing practice prohibited by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3601, et seq.
  4. Mandatory Training for Defendant Irene Hammond
    1. Within ninety (90) days after the date of entry of this Consent Decree, the Defendant Irene Hammond shall complete an educational program, to be conducted by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia for the cost of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), to be paid by the Defendants, that shall include the following:
      1. Informing Irene Hammond of her duties and obligations under the federal Fair Housing Act and applicable state laws;
      2. Providing Irene Hammond with a copy of the federal Fair Housing Act;
      3. Instructing Irene Hammond on procedures to ensure that family status does not enter into the process of providing information to persons who inquire about renting; and
      4. A question and answer session to review each of the foregoing areas.
    2. Within ten (10) business days after entry of this Consent Decree, Defendants shall provide to counsel for the United States the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000) by check payable to the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.
    3. The United States, on behalf of the Public Interest Law Center, states that the training session will not be publicized or in any way communicated to the general public.
  5. Scope and Duration of Consent Order
    1. The provisions of this Consent Order shall apply to Defendant Ronald Stevens, and his agents, employees, representative, principals, executors, administrators, personal representatives, successors and assigns.
    2. The provisions of this Consent Order shall apply to Defendant Byron Anstine, and his agents, employees, representative, principals, executors, administrators, personal representatives, successors and assigns.
    3. The provisions of this Consent Order shall apply to Defendant Irene Hammond, and her agents, employees, representative, principals, executors, administrators, personal representatives, successors and assigns.
    4. This Consent Order is effective immediately upon its entry by the Court and shall remain in effect for two (2) years from the date of entry.
    5. The Court shall retain jurisdiction over this action and over the Defendants during the two-year period specified above.
    6. The United States may move the Court to extend the period in which this Order is in effect, with respect to a particular Defendant(s), if it determines that a Defendant(s) likely violated one or more terms of this Order or if the interests of justice otherwise require an extension of the terms of the Order.
    7. The parties to this Consent Order shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of and compliance with this Order prior to bringing such matters to the Court for resolution. However, in the event that a Defendant(s) either fails to perform in a timely manner any act required by this Order or acts in violation of any provision of this Order, the United States may move the Court to impose any remedy authorized by law or equity, including, but not limited to, an order requiring performance or non-performance of certain acts and an award of any damages, costs, and attorneys' fees that may have been occasioned by the Defendant's or the Defendants' non-action or actions.
    8. Any time period set forth within this Order for the performance of any act may be changed by written agreement between the parties.
  6. Monetary Damages
    1. Within ten (10) business days after entry of this Order, Defendants shall provide to counsel for the United States the sum of Twenty-four Thousand Dollars ($24,000.00) by check payable to the National Fair Housing Alliance, a fair housing organization that is engaged in the business of eradicating housing discrimination.
  7. Civil Penalty
    1. Within thirty (30) days after the entry of this Consent Order, the Defendants shall pay the sum of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) to the United States as a civil penalty, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3614 (d)(1)(C). This payment shall be delivered to counsel for the United States in the form of a check payable to the "United States Department of Justice."
    2. In the event that any of the Defendants or their agents or employees are found liable for any future violation(s) of the Fair Housing Act, such violation(s) may constitute a "subsequent violation" pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 3614(d).

ORDERED this ____ day of _________, 2000.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

The undersigned agree to and request the entry of this Consent Order:

For the United States:

BILL LANN LEE
Assistant Attorney General

ISABELLE M. THABAULT
Deputy Chief

CHARLA D. JACKSON
Trial Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcment Section
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
(202)353-9705

Michael Stiles
United States Attorney
(E.D. Pa.)

Nancy Griffin
Assistant United States Attorney
615 Chestnut Street
Suite 1250
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 451-5200

For the Defendants:

GARY B. EIDELMAN
Saul, Ewing, Remick & Saul, L.L.P.
100 South Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-2773
(410)332-8600


ATTACHMENT A

On _________________________, 2000, I was instructed by ___________________ with respect to my responsibilities under the federal Fair Housing Act and applicable state laws. I have received copies of and have read the federal Fair Housing Act. I was instructed on procedures to ensure that family status does not enter into the process of providing information to persons who inquire about renting, and I was given the opportunity to ask questions and review each of the foregoing areas. I understand my legal responsibilities and will comply with those responsibilities. I further understand that the Court may impose sanctions on me if I violate a provision of this Order.

_____________________________
(Signature)             

_____________________________
(Print name)           

_____________________________
(Date)              

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Updated August 6, 2015

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