As real estate agents and brokers, you are hopefully well versed in the Fair Housing Act, which protects tenants and homeowners from discrimination.
A recent case of housing discrimination in Wisconsin serves as a poignant reminder that landlords and housing managers are not only responsible for providing housing fairly, but also for protecting tenants against hate and harassment based on factors such as race, religion, gender, or, in this case, disability.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are charging the owners and managers of a Cross Plains, Wisconsin apartment building with violations of the Fair Housing Act.
According to the suit, William Ranguette and Candice Wood, owners and managers of the Applewood senior housing complex, failed to address the harassment of their tenants, a mother and daughter who were being harassed on the basis of their disabilities.
Tenants were taunted for being disabled
The mother, who has cerebral palsy, and her daughter, who has Down’s Syndrome, reported that other tenants would follow them home and insult them, saying things like “you don’t belong here, you belong in an institution,” and hurling other abuses.
The mother reported these incidents to the local police, who issued warnings – but the harassment continued.
When the tenant reported these incidents to the apartment managers, she was told that she was causing too much trouble and was pressured to move. The tenants received a notice that their lease would not be renewed, and they moved out.
Renters should never feel degraded
According to Housing and Urban Development assistant secretary Gustav Velasquez, “A person’s home should be where they feel the greatest level of comfort – not anguish and fear because of being subjected to humiliating and degrading comments.”
“Harassing a person because of their disability is not only disturbing, it is illegal,” Velasquez concludes.
It is likewise both heartless and illegal for a housing manager to refuse to intervene to prevent harassment.