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Fair Housing lawsuit settled, a warning to all landlords

Last year, we highlighted a Fair Housing lawsuit brought on by Philadelphia resident, Robin Link who alleged that she was being discriminated against because she adopted a child. In September, the Trucksess couple who were Link’s landlords, were found guilty of violating the familial status portion of the Fair Housing Act and ordered to pay Link $40,000.

Fair Housing violations happen all the time- people act out of ignorance of the law on a daily basis, but this case caught our attention because the landlords had been licensed agents for decades and knew better. Since then, we have had a lengthy email dialogue with Robin Link but have not had a response from the Trucksess.

The back story you haven’t heard

The back story that you didn’t hear about in the papers is one that all landlords, property managers and property owners should read and pay attention to.

We find this story so heartbreaking because we learned that the Trucksess were almost family to the Link family. Robin’s two sisters have rented from the Trucksess for almost twenty years and Mrs. Trucksess is the half sisters of one of Robin’s best friends. She must have felt wonderful when she was referred by her sisters to this landlord, what an endorsement! Her sisters told Mrs. Trucksess that Robin was going to adopt a child and needed a place to rent and Mrs. Trucksess invited Robin to come take a tour, then approved her and allowed her to move in.

During her lease when she became a new mother, she was given an eviction notice and told to leave immediately. This is where the details get fuzzy and we remind our audience that we only have one side of the story (although we are frequently pro-tenant regardless). We can confirm, however, that one of the painful side effects of this lawsuit is the mocking of Robin and her son that has occurred online- what a shame.

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The smear campaign against Robin Link

The Trucksess being familial-like must have gotten complacent and overly familiar because the handling of the eviction was “cold” as Robin described it. During court, the landlords brought up a litany of grievances for which Robin was never notified of during her lease. Robin alleges that the Trucksess went on a smear campaign after the lawsuit was filed, assaulting Robin’s parenting skills to all who would listen, including Robin’s sisters who resided in the same complex.

The irony of the Trucksess getting their feelings hurt over the lawsuit is that once they lost, they privately acknowledged to Robin that she is “a good mother.”

The true victim of this discrimination: the children

For a long time, Robin second guessed her decision to take on this fight. It has caused a chasm in her family life as her sisters will no longer speak to her because she filed this lawsuit (against their friend of 20 years, the Trucksess), but Robin maintains that she was standing up for her son… remember, they knew she was adopting, rented to her, then wrongfully evicted her for adopting.

The true victim in all of this is Robin’s son who prior to adoption had been in five schools in five years. Robin asked if she could at least allow her son to finish his last year of elementary school before eviction and they would not budge. Robin and I have had email conversations about the impact on her son who has suffered more than we are willing to put into print, but let’s just say that he suffers from a similar guilt complex that children of divorce do.

A warning to landlords

Robin’s goal in communicating with us is to “bring awareness to the problem and let others know there ish elp for those who experience discrimination.” Our goal of communicating this with you is to remind you that if you’re a landlord, do not get too comfortable. Being friends or friendly with residents does not permit abuse. This should never have happened and we applaud Robin for fighting the difficult fight instead of sulking off into the shadows.

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Here is the Fair Housing Council press release about the settlement:

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Chris Lengquist

    January 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Works both ways. I have had tenants get friendly with me and then drop off the rent a day or two late and expecting me to just “look the other way.”

    You have to keep to the lease.

    • Lani Rosales

      January 11, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      Great point, it does go both ways. The lease is the lease is the lease, you’re right!

  2. Agent for Movoto

    January 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    wow, hadn’t heard this much detail about the case. good for you for bringing it to everyone’s attention.

  3. Dave Kinkade

    January 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Being friends with a tenant is a recipe for disaster. I’ve a friendship go up in smoke once it became a landlord/tenant relationship. Like Chris said, they fully expect you to look the other way if the rent comes in a little late. Nothing good comes out of a situation like this. It is all about the Lease. All parties are bound to follow the lease no matter what.

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