WASHINGTON, D.C. (News release) - The Arkansas Fair Housing Commission has issued a determination that there is reasonable cause to believe that apartment owners in Little Rock subjected Latino applicants to discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The findings result from an in-depth investigation of a complaint filed by the National Fair Housing Alliance in October of 2013 with the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission (AFHC) against Bailey Properties, et al. for refusing to rent to Latinos and discriminating in the conditions or terms of rental based on national origin.
Bailey Properties operates as part of BSR Trust, LLC, which owns and operates close to 19,000 apartments throughout the southeastern United States.
“We were stunned by the consistent pattern of discrimination our investigation uncovered,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of NFHA. “People in Little Rock deserve fair treatment when looking for housing, regardless of their national origin. This determination by the AFHC confirms the need for justice, and we urge Bailey Properties to come forward and change their practices so this never happens again.”
An undercover investigation of Bailey Properties undertaken by the National Fair Housing Alliance in March of 2013 found that apartment managers failed to provide prospective Latino tenants with a rental application or did so only after a significant period of time following the request. By contrast, prospective white renters promptly received follow up emails from the apartment managers with a copy of the application and the other information that the complex needed to process their applications.
The investigation identified a pattern of differences in treatment received by the White and Latino prospective tenants. In one instance, a white renter and a Latino renter both called on the same day asking about available apartments and information on applying. The white renter received an application via email within eight minutes along with other detailed application requirements and information. By contrast, the Latino renter had to wait 12 days for a response which included only the application and no additional required information, effectively eliminating that apartment as an option for someone who was planning to move in short order.
For its investigation, NFHA used white and Latino individuals, or testers, posing as prospective renters. In all cases, Latino testers were somewhat better qualified to rent the apartments than their white counterparts – they had higher incomes, a longer job history, and other better qualifying characteristics.
The findings issued by the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission confirm that evidence presented by NFHA is sufficient to suggest that Bailey Properties and BSR Trust subjected prospective Latino tenants to discrimination based on national origin. Specifically, the findings establish that there is reasonable cause to believe Bailey and BSR Trust discriminated by refusing to rent, refusing to negotiate for rental, and providing discriminatory terms, conditions, and privileges relating to rental.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status.
The National Fair Housing Alliance is represented in this matter by Steve Dane and Jean Zachariasiewicz of Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC.
Click here to read the two-part determination by the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission [NFHA v. Bailey Properties] and [NFHA v. BSR Trust, LLC].
Click here to read the full NFHA complaint filed in Oct. 2013.
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