Connecticut Landlords Ordered To Pay More Than $100k For Discriminating Against Prospective Tenants
Deirdre M. Daly, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Bryan Greene, Acting Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, today announced that a federal judge in New Haven has found the owners of a property in Windsor Locks, Conn., liable for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against prospective tenants based on their race.
In October 2011, the United States brought an action against Merline Hylton, the owner of 5 Townline Road in Windsor Locks, her husband Clifton Hylton and Hylton Real Estate Management (HREM), after the Connecticut Fair Housing Center filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of alleged victims of discrimination. In March 2013, U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall presided over a bench trial in the matter.
On May 1, 2013, Judge Hall issued a ruling that found that the defendants had violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent to tenants based on their race; discriminating in the terms, conditions, or privileges of renting to prospective tenants based on their race; and making discriminatory statements based on race regarding the rental of their property. Merline Hylton was ordered to pay compensatory damages for the actions of her husband and HREM, and Clifton Hylton and HREM were ordered to pay compensatory and punitive damages to the victims totaling $76,091.05. Judge Hall found that Clifton Hylton acted with evil motive and showed no remorse for his conduct, justifying an award of punitive damages.
On July 26, 2013, Judge Hall also ordered the defendants to pay attorneys’ fees in the amount of $37,422 to the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, who represented the victims and tried the case with the United States.
“Discrimination in housing in Connecticut will not be tolerated and those who discriminate will be aggressively pursued,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Daly. “We will not hesitate to take enforcement action where a person’s federal rights are denied.”
“Racial discrimination in housing not only violates the law and our commonly-held moral precepts as Americans, it also causes great economic and social harm to the family denied the opportunity to live in the neighborhood of their choice,” stated HUD Acting Assistant Secretary Greene. “HUD and the Department of Justice will continue to enforce the fair housing laws to ensure that everyone with the wherewithal to pay has equal access to America's neighborhoods.”
In addition to awarding monetary damages, Judge Hall ordered that the defendants complete three hours of fair housing training each year, post signs on their dwellings indicating that their dwellings are available on a non-discriminatory basis, and report to the government any complaints alleging discrimination filed by their tenants.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ndidi N. Moses and Timothy Bennett-Smyth from the Connecticut Fair Housing Center.
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 can file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 203-821-3700, call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, email the Justice Department at email@example.com, or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONTACT:
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE