Williams v QT-1, LLC

04/13/2015
Document Text Content: 

PREDETERMINATION SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

 

CP# 02-14-65422

HUD# 07-14-0270-8

 

PARTIES TO THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT:

 

 

RESPONDENTS

 

QT-1, LLC

PO Box 3049

Iowa City, Iowa 52244

 

APTS. DOWNTOWN, INC.

414 East Market Street

Iowa City, Iowa 52245

 

 

COMPLAINANT

 

ANGELA WILLIAMS

Commissioner

Iowa Civil Rights Commission

400 East 14th Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

 

AND

 

IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION

400 East 14th Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

 

 

 

Description of the Parties:  Complainant is a member of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.  As a member, Complainant has the authority to file a complaint alleging a discriminatory practice in violation of the “Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965,” Iowa Code Chapter 216.  Complainant alleged Respondents published an advertisement for a one-bedroom apartment for rent that stated, “This location is great for a single occupant or couple.” Complainant alleged such statement indicates a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on familial status, the presence of small children in the household.  Respondents own or manage the subject property, a nine-unit apartment complex, located at 331 S. Johnson Street, Iowa City, IA 52240. 

 

 

Respondents sent documentation to the Commission stating that the subject property has eight one-bedroom apartments, and the approximate dimensions for bedrooms are

 15’ x 11’ 6” (173 sq. ft.), and the total square footage of the apartments ranges from 400 to 500 square feet. 

 

Per the City of Iowa City rental permit, four of the one-bedroom units have maximum unrelated occupancy of two, and the other four have a maximum unrelated occupancy of three.  Per Iowa City’s Municipal Code occupancy of any dwelling requires 120 sq. ft. of habitable floor space for the first occupant and there must be at least 100 sq. ft. of additional floor space for each additional occupant.  Every room occupied for sleeping purposes requires 70 sq. ft. for the first two occupants, and there must be 40 sq. ft. of additional floor space for each additional occupant.   As a result Respondents’

15’ x 11’ 6” (173 sq. ft.) bedroom could house three people.  Some of the apartments then could have two occupants and some four.

 

A complaint having been filed by Complainant against Respondent with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (hereafter referred to as the Commission) under Iowa Code Chapter 216 and there having been a preliminary inquiry, the parties do hereby agree and settle the above-captioned matter in the following extent and manner:

 

Acknowledgment of Fair Housing Law

 

1.            Respondents agree there shall be no discrimination, harassment, or retaliation of any kind against Complainant or any other person for filing a charge under Iowa Code Chapter 216; or because of giving testimony or assistance, or participating in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing under Iowa Code Chapter 216; or because of lawful opposition to any practice forbidden under Iowa Code Chapter 216.

 

2.            Respondents acknowledge that the Federal Fair Housing Laws Act, as amended, makes it unlawful to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin,, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination. 42 U.S.C. 3604(c) (Section 804(c) of the Fair Housing Act).

 

Respondents also acknowledge that the Iowa Civil Rights Act makes it unlawful to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination. Iowa Code § 216.8(1)(c).

 

3.            Respondents acknowledge that the Federal Fair Housing Laws Act, as amended, makes it unlawful to refuse to sell, rent, lease, assign, sublease, refuse to negotiate, or to otherwise make unavailable, or deny any real property or housing accommodation or part, portion, or interest therein, to any person based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin,, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.

 42 U.S.C. 3604(a) (Section 804(a) of the Fair Housing Act).

 

Respondents also acknowledge that the Iowa Civil Rights Act makes it unlawful  to refuse to sell, rent, lease, assign, sublease, refuse to negotiate, or to otherwise make unavailable, or deny any real property or housing accommodation or part, portion, or interest therein, to any person because of the race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, disability, or familial status of such person. Iowa Code § 216.8(1)(a).

 

Voluntary and Full Settlement

 

4.            The parties acknowledge this Predetermination Settlement Agreement is a voluntary and full settlement of the disputed complaint.  The parties affirm they have read and fully understand the terms set forth herein.  No party has been coerced, intimidated, threatened or in any way forced to become a party to this Agreement.

 

5.            The parties enter into this Agreement in a good faith effort to amicably resolve existing disputes.  The execution of this Agreement is not an admission of any wrongdoing or violation of law.  Nor is the execution of this Agreement an admission by Complainant that any claims asserted in her complaint are not fully meritorious.

 

6.            The parties agree the execution of this Agreement may be accomplished by separate counterpart executions of this Agreement.  The parties agree the original executed signature pages will be attached to the body of this Agreement to constitute one document.

 

7.            Respondents agree the Commission may review compliance with this Agreement.  And as part of such review, Respondents agree the Commission may examine witnesses, collect documents, or require written reports, all of which will be conducted in a reasonable manner by the Commission.  

 

Disclosure

 

8.            Because, pursuant to Iowa Code §216.15A(2)(d), the Commission has not determined that disclosure is not necessary to further  the purposes of  the ICRA relating to unfair or discriminatory practices in housing or real estate, this Agreement is a public record and subject to public disclosure in accordance with Iowa’s Public Records Law, Iowa Code Chapter 22.  See Iowa Code §22.13. 

Release

 

9.            Complainant hereby waives, releases, and covenants not to sue Respondents with respect to any matters which were, or might have been alleged as charges filed with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development, or any other anti-discrimination agency, subject to performance by Respondents of the promises and representations contained herein. Complainant agrees any complaint filed with any other anti-discrimination agency, including the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development, which involves the issues in this complaint, shall be closed as Satisfactorily Adjusted.

 

Fair Housing Training

 

10.          Respondents agree that each of their current employees, office staff or agents who are involved in the management or leasing operations of their residential rental properties will receive training on the requirements of State and Federal Fair Housing Laws within 90 days of their receipt of a Closing Letter from the Commission.  The training will address all aspects of fair housing law, but will emphasize the law regarding the prohibition discriminatory advertising, and refusal to rent due to familial status.  The training shall be conducted by a qualified person, approved by the Commission or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 

Respondents also agree to send documentation to the Commission, verifying the fair housing training has been completed, within ten (10) days of completing the training.

 

Future Advertising

 

11.          Respondents agree they will only market the attributes of their rental properties and not reference a preferred type of tenant(s)/occupant(s).  Respondents agree all future advertising in newspapers, pamphlets, brochures, other promotional literature, and on any Internet website will no longer state a preference for any particular type of tenant based on a personal characteristic.  In addition, Respondents will not state an occupancy standard that is more restrictive than the local occupancy code or that described in the Keating Memo (“Fair Housing Enforcement—Occupancy Standards; Notice of Statement of Policy (the Keating Memo),” 42 U.S.C. 3535(d), 112 Stat. 2461), which details that an occupancy standard must be carefully examined “to determine whether it operates unreasonably to limit or exclude families with children.” 

 

For 12 months following the execution of this Agreement, Respondents agree all future advertisements for the subject property, located at 331 South Johnson Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52240, in newspapers, pamphlets, brochures, yard signs, other promotional literature, and on any Internet website for all rental units located in the subject property other than efficiency apartments will include the following language: “Families with children are welcome.” 

 

In addition, said advertisements may include occupancy language stating maximum unrelated occupancy and maximum related occupancy in adherence to the Iowa City Municipal Code.

 

For 12 months following the execution of this Settlement Agreement, Respondents agree to send a copy of all advertisements, for the subject property, located at 331 South Johnson Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52240, with the above stated language to the Commission, within ten (10) days of distributing the advertisement.  

 

Respondents acknowledge property owners, managers, and agents cannot discourage families with children from seeking or making application for available rental units by making any statement, verbal or written, that indicates families with children are not welcome or not solicited as tenants.  Respondents acknowledge the statement, “This location is great for a single occupant or couple” may discourages families with minor children from making application because it may indicate such families are not solicited or welcome as tenants. 

 

Respondents also acknowledge families with children may not be segregated in certain buildings or properties, or in certain areas or floors of a particular complex.  Families may not be restricted because of safety concerns.  The safety of the children is the parents’ responsibility, and the parents determine whether the unit is suitable for their family.

 

The Keating Memo states that HUD believes that an occupancy policy of two persons in a bedroom, as a general rule, is reasonable under the Fair Housing Act. However, the memo also states that the reasonableness of any occupancy policy is rebuttable, and should not imply that HUD will evaluate compliance solely on the number of people permitted in each bedroom.  The memo outlines factors that HUD will consider when evaluating a housing provider's occupancy policies to determine whether actions under the provider's policies may constitute discriminatory conduct under the Fair Housing Act on the basis of familial status (the presence of children in a family). In appropriate circumstances, a housing provider may counter an occupancy policy of two persons per bedroom based on factors such as the number and size of sleeping areas or bedrooms, the overall size of the dwelling unit, the configuration of the unit (for example the presence of a den or small extra room), age of the children, sewer or other building systems, and existence of state or local laws.  The Keating Memo in its entirety can be read online at:

http://www.fairhousing.com/index.cfm?method=page.display&pagename=HUD_resources_keatingmmo

 

 

 

 

Demographics

 

12.          On an annual basis for the next three years, Respondents agree to provide “tenant data” of all occupants at the subject property, located at 331 South Johnson Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52240 to the Commission.  On or before June 30, 2014, June 30, 2015, and June 30, 2016 Respondents agrees to provide tenant data of all occupants as of June 1, 2014, June 1, 2015, and June 1, 2016.

 

Tenant data for each rental unit shall include: (1) the address and apartment number of each rental unit; (2) the number of occupants authorized by the city to reside at each rental unit; (3) the number of occupants residing at each unit; and (4) the number of minor children (under the age of 18) living at each unit.  

 

Relief for Complainant

 

13.          Within 90 days of their receipt of a Closing Letter from the Commission, Respondents agree to contact each city where they own rental property to get a copy of the City’s rental code, and occupancy standards to determine the number of persons (related and unrelated) who can sleep in each room occupied for sleeping purposes, in each of Respondents’ rental units, per each City’s occupancy standards. 

 

Reporting and Record-Keeping

 

14.          Respondents shall forward to the Commission objective evidence of the successful completion of training, in the form of a Certificate or a letter from the entity conducting the training, within ten (10) days of the completion of the training, as evidence of compliance with Term 10 of this Agreement.

 

15.          For 12 months following the execution of this Settlement Agreement, Respondents agree to send copies of their advertisements for the subject property, located at 331 South Johnson Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52240, with the following language “Families with children are welcome” to the Commission within ten (10) days of publication, as evidence of compliance with Term 11 of this Agreement.

 

16.          On an annual basis for the next three years, Respondents agree to provide “tenant    data” of all occupants for the subject property, located at 331 South Johnson Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52240 to the Commission.  On or before June 30, 2014, June 30, 2015, and June 30, 2016 Respondents agree to provide tenant data of all occupants as of June1, 2014, June 1, 2015, and June 1, 2016 as evidence of compliance with Term 12 of this Agreement.

 

Tenant data for each rental unit shall include:  (1) the address and apartment number of each rental unit; (2) the number of occupants authorized by the city to reside at each rental unit; (3) the number of occupants residing at each unit; and (4) the number of minor children (under the age of 18) living at each unit.

 

 

All required documentation of compliance must be submitted to:

 

Don Grove, Supervisor of Housing Investigations

Grimes State Office Building

400 East 14th Street,

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

 

 

 

 

 

___________________________________________________        ______________

QT-1, LLC, RESPONDENT                                                                                               Date

 

 

___________________________________________________        ______________

Apts. Downtown, Inc., RESPONDENT                                                      Date

 

 

___________________________________________________        ______________

Angela Williams, COMPLAINANT                                                                               Date

 

 

___________________________________________________        _____________

Beth Townsend, DIRECTOR                                                                                         Date

IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION