Ohio Landlord Agrees to End Discriminatory Housing Practices
The Justice Department today announced that a North Ridgeville, Ohio, landlord, Emil Bagi, and his management company, Ridgeway Management Ltd., have entered into a consent decree and have agreed pay $30,000 to resolve claims that they discriminated on the basis of race at the Ridge Plaza Apartments, a 36 unit apartment complex they own and operate in North Ridgeville, Ohio. The settlement must still be approved by the federal district court in the Northern District of Ohio.
According to documents filed along with the settlement agreement the department alleges that the defendants discriminated against African Americans by quoting higher rental and application fee rates to them than to white apartment seekers, and by refusing to show African Americans vacant units when they visited while showing such units to white apartment seekers who visited the complex. The complaint is based on evidence obtained by the department’s fair housing testing program. The department sent African-American and white testers posing as prospective renters to the complex and the African-American testers were quoted higher rents and application fees than the white testers. African-American testers were also told that they could not view a unit at that time, while similarly situated white testers were shown units. The department also alleges that since acquiring ownership of the property in 1995, the defendants have never leased a unit to an African-American tenant.
Under the terms of the settlement, the defendant wills establish a settlement fund of $20,000 to compensate persons harmed by the alleged discrimination and a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States. In addition, the defendants will establish non-discriminatory rental policies, obtain fair housing training, and submit to reporting and monitoring requirements for the three year term of the settlement.
“It is simply unacceptable for a landlord to make renting an apartment more difficult and more expensive because of a person’s race,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division.
“The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing the Fair Housing Act using every tool at our disposal,” said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach for the Northern District of Ohio. “This landlord got caught by fair housing testers trying to charge higher rent to minority applicants. He failed the test miserably – and now he has to pay the price. Other landlords should keep that in mind when they are showing properties.”
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Department of Justice. 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 www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination at Ridge Plaza should contact the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Persons who believe they have experienced housing discrimination elsewhere may contact the Justice Department or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 or through its website at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp.