Justice Department Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Against South Dakota Apartment Owners
WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced that South Dakota property owner TK Properties L.L.C. and one of its principals, Scott Terveen, have agreed to pay $30,000 in monetary damages and civil penalties to settle a Fair Housing Act lawsuit against them. The lawsuit alleges that they discriminated against three families who lived at Lakeport Village Apartments, a 48-unit apartment complex in Sioux Falls, S.D., that TK Properties and Terveen previously managed.
Today’s settlement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota, partially resolves a lawsuit filed by the Department in October 2010 against TK Properties, Terveen, and two employees, Ann Wagner and Corey Anderson. The United States’ lawsuit alleged that defendants, through the actions of Wagner and Anderson, created a hostile housing environment for one African American family and two white families who associated with the African American family while they were tenants at Lakeport Village. The tenants eventually moved out as a result of the defendants’ conduct. Today’s settlement resolves the claims against TK Properties and Scott Terveen. The settlement does not resolve the United States’ claims against Wagner and Anderson, who no longer work for TK Properties. Wagner and Anderson did not respond to the complaint and the court entered a judgment of default against them in July 2010.
“No person or family should be denied the right to equal treatment in housing because of their race or because of the race of their friends or relatives,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “This settlement illustrates the Department’s commitment to protecting equal housing opportunities for all.”
“This settlement helps ensure that equal housing opportunities required by law are available to all South Dakotans. Our office will not tolerate discrimination against persons based upon their race,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Brendan Johnson.
“Treating a family differently because of their race, and then to retaliate against another family for standing up for their neighbors’ fair housing rights, violates the law and is unacceptable in a nation founded on the principles of justice and equality,” said John Trasviña, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD and the Department of Justice will continue to work together to end all forms of housing discrimination.”
The lawsuit originated as a result of complaints the three families filed with HUD. After an investigation, HUD found reasonable cause to believe that unlawful discrimination had occurred and referred the matter to the Justice Department.
Under the settlement, TK Properties will pay $26,000 to the three families and $4,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. The settlement also requires TK Properties and Terveen to adopt non-discrimination policies at their rental properties, participate in fair housing training and require their employees to receive training. TK Properties and Terveen also admit the United States’ factual allegations about the discriminatory conduct carried out by Wagner and Anderson against the three families.
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 or at www.hud.gov . Fair housing enforcement is a priority of the department’s Civil Rights Division. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt .