Housing And Civil Enforcement Cases Documents



UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

           Plaintiff,

v.

1:02-cv-112-4(WLS)

HAL CARTER; PRISCILLA
CARTER; LISA BUCKLEY; HAL
CARTER RENTAL, LP; and HAL
CARTER CONSTRUCTION CO.,

           Defendants.
_____________________________________

CONSENT ORDER

The United States initiated this lawsuit with the filing of a complaint on July 8, 2002, pursuant to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq. The complaint alleges that the defendants have been engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against persons on the basis of familial status, in violation of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §3604, in the rental of dwellings they own and/or manage in and around Sylvester, Georgia. The defendants deny that they have taken any actions which violate the Fair Housing Act. However, in order to avoid the cost and uncertainty of protracted litigation, the parties have agreed to resolve this dispute without the necessity of a trial or evidentiary hearing. Therefore, the parties hereby waive trial or a hearing as well as the entry of findings of fact and conclusions of law and have agreed to the entry of this Consent Order, as indicated by the signatures appearing below.

Therefore, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED:

Injunctive Relief
  1. Defendants, their agents, employees, successors, and all persons in active concert or participation with any of them, are enjoined, with respect to the rental of dwellings (1) at any location, from:
    1. Refusing to rent a dwelling unit, refusing to negotiate for the rental of 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, con-ditions, or privileges of rental of 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 or an intention to make such a preference, limitation, or discrimination;
    4. Representing 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. Directing, suggesting, or showing a dwelling unit to a person - or failing to do so - because of familial status.

    Nothing herein precludes the defendants from providing truthful factual information about the physical characteristics or condition of any rental dwelling in response to questions from an applicant or potential applicant.

  2. The provisions of this Order apply to all residential rental properties in the Sylvester, Georgia, area in which any of the defendants have an ownership or management interest, whether individual or jointly with others.
    II.    Standards for Applicants
  3. The defendants have adopted uniform, non-discriminatory standards and procedures for the processing of applications, the establishment of waiting lists, and the approval of applicants for the rental of available dwelling units at each of their residential rental properties. These standards and procedures have been reviewed by the United States, and a copy is attached hereto as Exhibit A. A copy of these standards and procedures shall be made available upon request to any applicant for a rental unit. For the duration of this Order, these rental standards and procedures may be modified only upon agreement by counsel for the United States, which shall not be unreasonably withheld. In the event that the United States does not agree to the proposed change or modification, the change shall not be implemented until the parties have resolved their dispute or, in the event they are unable to resolve it, the Court has resolved it.
  4. The defendants shall, with respect to all residential rental dwellings in which they have an ownership or management interest, or which are managed for their benefit:
    1. Continue to maintain in the normal course of business an accurate list of all dwellings known or expected to be available for rental, including for each unit the apartment number, number of bedrooms, and monthly rent;
    2. Inform each prospective applicant who inquires about renting a dwelling about all available units of the type requested, and, if no unit is available, inform the prospective applicant about the availability of a waiting list; and
    3. Permit all prospective applicants the opportunity to complete and submit a written rental application to be placed on a waiting list.
    III.     Mandatory Education and Training
  5. Subsequent to the initiation of this action, the defendants, as well as their employees and agents with any responsibility for the rental of dwellings, have attended an educational training program concerning their responsibilities under federal, state, and local fair housing laws, regulations, and ordinances. Training with respect to statutory prohibitions on familial status discrimination for new employees with rental responsibilities shall be provided by an organization or individual chosen by the defendants, with the approval of the United States. All persons attending this supplemental program shall have their attendance certified in writing by the person conducting the program.
  6. Within ten (10) days after the date of entry of this Consent Order, the defendants shall also undertake the following actions with respect to all their employees and agents with rental responsibilities to inform them of the provisions of this Order:
    1. Furnish to each such employee or agent a copy of this Consent Order, and inform each such individual, in person, of the duties of the defendants and their employees and agents pursuant to the Order; and
    2. Secure the signed statement appearing at Exhibit C from each such employee and agent indicating that he or she has received, read, and understands this Consent Order and the defendants' policy of nondiscrimination; under stands that violation of this Order may result in sanctions against them by the defendants and/or the Court; and further understands that they will not be subject to sanctions from their employer for providing factual information to any private or governmental fair housing enforcement agency relating to possible violations of this Order or applicable fair housing laws.
  7. Each new employee or agent of the defendants with housing rental responsibilities shall be given a copy of and required to read this Consent Order and sign the statement appearing at Exhibit C within ten (10) days after the date he or she commences an employment or agency relationship with or for the benefit of any of the defendants.
    IV.    Notification to Public of Nondiscriminatory Policies
  8. The defendants have taken or will take the following steps to notify the public of their nondiscriminatory policies:
    1. Posted and prominently displayed in their rental office a Fair Housing Poster;
    2. Within a reasonable time, not to exceed three months from the date of entry of this Consent Order, include the words "Equal Housing Opportunity" or the fair housing logo in all advertising conducted for any of their rental dwellings in newspapers or other media, and on all signs, pamphlets, brochures, and other pro-motional literature; and
    3. Include the following phrase in the standard rental application and lease in bold print at least equal in size to the text of the document:

    We are an equal housing opportunity provider. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, handicap, or familial status (having children under age 18).

    V.    Record Keeping and Monitoring
  9. The defendants routinely maintain a list of available dwellings, copies of applications, and a waiting list. They shall continue to do so, and shall provide copies of these documents to the United States every six months for the duration of this Order. (2) In addition, the defendants shall maintain a documentary record which includes the following information about all persons who inquire in person about the availability of a rental unit, provided the person provides such information: name, address, telephone number, date of inquiry, and whether the household includes any child under the age of 18 years. The defendants shall also provide a copy of this document to the United States every six months for the duration of this Order. The first such submission shall also include a list of all rental units indicating whether or not each unit is occupied by a household with children under the age of 18 years.
  10. Each semi-annual report shall also include copies of all signed statements and certifications secured pursuant to this Consent Order during the previous six months, if any.
  11. For the duration of this Order, the defendants or their agents shall preserve all records which are the source of, contain, or relate to any of the information pertinent to their obligations under this Order, including all rental applications and leases for dwellings. Upon reasonable notice to counsel for defendants, representatives of the United States shall be permitted to inspect and copy all such records of the defendants or their agents at any and all reasonable times.
  12. During the term of this Order, the defendants shall advise counsel for the United States in writing within fifteen (15) days of receipt of any written or oral complaint against the defendants, or any of their employees or agents, regarding equal opportunity in housing. They shall also promptly provide the United States all information concerning the resolution of any such complaint within fifteen (15) days thereof.
    VI.  Compliance Testing
  13. The United States may take steps to monitor the defendants' compliance with this Order including, but not limited to, conducting fair housing tests at any residential rental properties owned or managed in whole or in part by or for the benefit of any of the defendants to deter and detect future acts of unlawful housing discrimination and to determine whether the defendants are violating any part of this Order. The United States may use the test results for any lawful purpose, including the initiation of further judicial proceedings, but only after compliance with the consultation provisions of Paragraph 16.
    VII.     Monetary Payment
  14. The defendants will pay a civil penalty of $9,000.00, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §3614, in full satisfaction of the monetary claims of the United States according to the following schedule: (a) $3,000.000 within thirty (30) days of the date of entry of this Order, and (b) $6,000.000 within six (6) months of the date of entry of this Order. The checks, payable to the United States of America, shall be sent to counsel for the United States.
    VIII.     Duration of Consent Order
  15. The Court shall retain jurisdiction for the duration of this Consent Order - two years and three months from the date of its entry - to enforce the terms thereof, after which time the case shall be dismissed with prejudice. The United States may move the Court to extend the duration of the Order in the interests of justice.
    IX.   Miscellaneous
  16. The parties to this Consent Order shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding inter- pretation of and compliance with this Order prior to bringing such matters to third-party mediation or to the Court for resolution. In the event that any future dispute is brought to the Court for resolution, the United States may move this Court to impose any remedy authorized by law or equity, and an award of any damages, costs, and attorneys' fees incurred which may have been occasioned by the defendants' violation or failure to perform. The Court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of this Order upon a motion to reopen the case for such purpose.
  17. Any time limits for performance imposed by this Consent Order may be extended by mutual written agreement of the parties.
  18. Each party shall bear its own costs and fees.

SO ORDERED this ______  day of _______ , 2004.

_________________________________
HON. W. LOUIS SANDS, CHIEF JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

The undersigned apply for and consent to the entry of this Order:


For the Defendants: For the United States:


______________________________
Ralph F. Simpson, Esq.
The Simpson Law Firm
P.O. Drawer 327
Tifton, Georgia 31793
(229)382-9350
______________________________
Donna M. Murphy
Deputy Chief
Burtis M. Dougherty
Attorney
Civil Rights Division -
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. NWB
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202)514-4737

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

When an inquiry is made about the availability of a rental unit, the person inquiring is asked when he or she will need the unit and what size rental unit is needed. At that time, said person is advised of all available applicable rental units, the location of each unit, the amount of rent for each unit, and the amount of deposit required. Each person who inquires about renting a unit will be offered an application to complete. When the completed application is received, we will obtain a credit history for that person upon the payment of an application fee of $25.00. The applicant will be approved or rejected based upon rental history, credit history, income, and personal references. Applicants with a record of eviction, liens, judgments, or poor credit history will be rejected and applicants with monthly obligations above 25% of monthly take-home pay will be rejected. If an application is approved, the person will be offered an available unit or will be placed on the waiting list. Approved applicants will be placed on the waiting list in the chronological order in which their applications are received and approved. If an application is rejected, the person will be notified of the denial and the reason therefor. If there is a waiting list when a rental unit becomes available, the next potential applicant will be contacted to determine if he or she is still interested in the available unit; if not, the next applicant on the waiting list will be contacted until one accepts the unit or until the list is exhausted. When an approved applicant decides to lease the available unit, the parties determine a move-in date, the person pays a deposit and executes the lease, and keys to the unit are provided to him or her.


On _____________________________ , 2004, I was instructed by __________________________________ with respect to my responsibilities under Hal Carter Rental, LP's rental policies and procedures and the Order entered by the federal district court in United States v. Hal Carter, et al., Case No. 1:02-cv-112-4 (WLS) (M.D. Ga.). I have received a copy of and have read that Order. I understand my legal responsibilities under that Order and those policies and procedures, and I will comply with those responsibilities. I further understand that the Court may impose sanctions on me if I violate a provision of this Order and that my employer may also discipline me if I violate a provision of that Order. I have also been informed by my employer that it will not reprimand me for providing factual information to any private fair housing organization or any law enforcement agency, including the Department of Justice, regarding my employer's compliance with the Fair Housing Act and/or that Consent Order.

______________________________
(Signature)

______________________________
(Print name)

______________
(Date)


1. For the purposes of this Order, "dwelling" shall have the same meaning as it does in the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3602(b).

2. All material required by this Order to be sent to counsel for the United States shall be addressed as follows: United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Housing and Civil Enforcement Section (Attn. DJ 175-19M-82) - Northwest Building, Washington, D.C. 20530.


Date Filed: March 26, 2004 > >
Updated August 6, 2015

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