Blogger Catches Landlord Discriminating

Katelyn Sack caught a landlord discriminating against disabled would-be tenants. The woman is offering a Bellair cottage for rent, but not to Katelyn, now that the woman knows that Katelyn’s mother has a autoimmune disorder.  #

12 Responses to “Blogger Catches Landlord Discriminating”

  • This is probably a violation of the Virginia Fair Housing Law.

    You should file a complaint, whether or not you believe anything come of it.

  • Thanks for the link.

    I’ve had HUD Form 903 printed out for a month now. But what I would really like to see happen here is this individual’s community call or email to remind her we are all Charlottesvillagers, and her behavior is unacceptable by our community’s standards of common decency.

    On a more systematic level, the UVA offices I listed need to pull her ad from their websites and put a protocol in place to respond to this kind of discriminatory housing practice in the future. “It’s not our problem” just doesn’t cut it.

  • Contact Piedmont Housing Alliance’s fair housing program to make sure the landlord is actually in violation of the Act. If the landlord isn’t, then you may be sued.

  • From “A Guide to Disability Rights Laws,” available on the website of the Americans with Disabilities Act

    “The Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988, prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Its coverage includes private housing, housing that receives Federal financial assistance, and State and local government housing. It is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual associated with the buyer or renter, or an individual who intends to live in the residence. Other covered activities include, for example, financing, zoning practices, new construction design, and advertising.

    The Fair Housing Act requires owners of housing facilities to make reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people with disabilities equal housing opportunities. For example, a landlord with a “no pets” policy may be required to grant an exception to this rule and allow an individual who is blind to keep a guide dog in the residence. The Fair Housing Act also requires landlords to allow tenants with disabilities to make reasonable access-related modifications to their private living space, as well as to common use spaces. (The landlord is not required to pay for the changes.) The Act further requires that new multifamily housing with four or more units be designed and built to allow access for persons with disabilities. This includes accessible common use areas, doors that are wide enough for wheelchairs, kitchens and bathrooms that allow a person using a wheelchair to maneuver, and other adaptable features within the units.”

  • Katelyn, Contact Vicki Hawes from the Off-Grounds Housing office. Or email her at She’s great and can help you.

  • Yes, however, the law does not require a landlord to rent to any and every hopeful with a handicap. It may be to your advantage to get help in ascertaining the reason claimed by the landlord as to why you were not considered, bad credit, lack of funds, bad recommendations, etc. before you continue advertising this conflict. Just a thought…

  • Cville Eye, it seems that maybe you didn’t follow the link to Katelyn Sack’s site, where she described the phone conversation with the landlord:

    “When she went on to ask me why I wanted to know about stairs in the property, I wasn’t alarmed. It’s a reasonable question. My mother is disabled, I responded.

    ‘Is she handicapped?’ the landlord wanted to know. It is illegal for landlords to ask this, but they do anyway.

    Yes, I responded.

    ‘What’s wrong with her?’ It is also illegal for them to ask this, but I don’t mind.”

    So it sounds like KS is not complaining that the landlord simply did not rent to her, but that the landlord asked questions that landlords are not allowed to ask. There’s about a zillion places on the Internet where you can confirm this facet of the Fair Housing Act.

  • Claire – I called and emailed Vicki Hawes. I have not yet received a substantive response.

    What Jason Trujillo at the law school told me is that they do not consider themselves responsible for the content of these UVA server-housed websites:

    If someone utilizing these UVA websites is breaking federal law, according to Jason, it is not their problem.

    Cecil – That’s right. It’s illegal to ask certain questions (e.g. about race, disability, and the like), and it’s illegal to refuse to show your private property to folks on the basis of them fitting into one of those protected categories. Which is exactly what happened in this case.

  • Is there any proof that this conversation ever took place? So far, it seems to be one person’s word against another. This is a federal legal matter and how would the feds know that this is not just a retaliatory complaint? Perhaps PHA can suggest ways to prove (yes, YOU have to do that; the landlord doesn’t have to prove he didn’t do something).

  • Hm. Proof other than the recording and email I already made available open-source, to which Cville News has linked?

    Yes, I do have additional documentation on this matter. No, I’m not posting it for you here.

    Ginny McFadden knows what the truth is as well as I do. UVA knows (because I’ve told them) that they have a gaping hole in their protocol, and this is a great opportunity to fix it — to protect their affiliates and other community members in the future from discrimination that is illegal according to state and federal law. I hope they catch the window.

  • Is there any proof that this conversation ever took place? So far, it seems to be one person’s word against another.

    Presumably that is inherent to housing discrimination cases. Most people aren’t in the habit of recording their telephone conversations with would-be landlords. One must assume that the system is designed to handle such a commonplace circumstance.

  • The usual “handling” I believe it to get it “verified” by a third party such as those in the business of duplicating the experience described by the person making the complaint. That may be where PHA could come in. Is that recording of the telephone conversation legal by any chance? It used to be that people could not record a phone conversation without notifying the other person that the conversation was being recorded.
    I’m going to bow out and let Katelyn handle her own business. I’m not really a witness to any of it and I didn’t hear the lady say she wasn’t going to rent to anybody.

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