Justice Department Sues Owners and Managers of Rental Properties in Honolulu, Hawaii for Discriminating Against Families with Children
The Department of Justice today announced that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that the owners and managers of residential rental housing in Honolulu, Hawaii, refused to rent to families with children, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, alleges that the defendants—Hawaii Student Suites Inc., Hawaii Student Residences LLC or Hawaii Student Suites, Savio Hauoli Street LLC, and 258-60 Beach Walk LLC—engaged in unlawful familial status discrimination in connection with three properties in Honolulu: Beachwalk, Kalo Terrace, and Pacific Villa. Specifically, the complaint alleges that since at least 2015, the Defendants have discriminated against families with children by: (1) refusing to rent or to negotiate for the rental of the three properties on the basis of familial status; (2) steering prospective renters with children who inquired about housing away from the properties to a separate property management company; and (3) making discouraging and other discriminatory statements to potential renters with children who inquired about housing, including that the housing was not “suitable” or the right “fit” for families with children.
“Owners and managers of rental housing must ensure their housing is open to families with children,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Fair Housing Act requires it, and the Justice Department will continue both to enforce the Act vigorously and to seek relief for families victimized by unlawful discrimination.”
“Discrimination against families with children is completely contrary to the values of our community in Hawaii and is especially damaging where, as here, housing can be difficult to obtain,” said U.S. Attorney Kenji M. Price of the district of Hawaii. “We will pursue violations of federal anti-discrimination laws to provide the fairest opportunities for families with children to find affordable housing.”
The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii brought this matter to the Department’s attention after conducting testing which, as the complaint alleges, showed discrimination against families with children in connection with the defendants’ properties. Today’s lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest, and a court order barring future discrimination and harassment. The complaint contains allegations of unlawful conduct; the allegations must be proven in federal court.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of familial status discrimination or other types of housing discrimination at rental dwellings owned or managed by the Defendants, or who have other information that may be relevant to this case, can contact the Housing Discrimination Tip Line, at 1-800-896-7743, and select mailbox 998 to leave a message.
Individuals can also report housing discrimination by e-mailing the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.