U.S. Attorney’s Office Settles Lawsuit Against South Dakota Landlord
RAPID CITY, SD – United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that the United States has reached a settlement agreement with a Rapid City landlord to resolve a lawsuit alleging discrimination on the basis of sex and familial status, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
The lawsuit arose from a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”). After the parties failed to resolve allegations administratively, the matter was brought to federal court, where the United States alleged that Amie Kelly violated the Fair Housing Act when she discriminated against Jennifer Seiler on the basis of sex and familial status. Specifically, the United States alleged that on July 20, 2015, Ms. Kelly sent Ms. Seiler a copy of a lease agreement that contained the following provision: “No minor under the age of 18 is to be allowed to be on or about the premises without adult supervision.” The United States further alleged that on July 23, 2015, after a series of correspondence with Ms. Seiler, Ms. Kelly denied her the opportunity to rent a housing unit. Ms. Kelly communicated the denial by email, representing that she had decided to rent to a bachelor, instead: “In the past, I have always rented to bachelors, that has worked best.” Lastly, the United States alleged that on or around July 28, 2015, five days after Ms. Kelly represented to Ms. Seiler that a particular housing unit was unavailable, Ms. Kelly made the unit available to a bachelor.
Under the settlement, which does not constitute an admission of liability, Ms. Kelly will pay Ms. Seiler $3,000 in monetary damages. As part of the agreement, Ms. Kelly will also implement nondiscrimination policies and procedures, partake in fair housing training, refrain from engaging in any prohibited conduct in the future, and make periodic reports to the department regarding compliance.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of disability, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, 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 they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, email the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777. Individuals residing within South Dakota may also contact Alison Ramsdell, Civil Rights Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota, at (605) 330-4400.