Paul and Hope, a mixed racial couple, had no trouble finding an apartment, for Hope, who is white, went into the office alone and asked for an application to rent. Paul was at work at the time. “Oh, honey, we have a wonderful one bedroom apartment that would suit you and your husband just fine,” the manager, Betsy, said to Hope. She then proceeded to take Hope over to look at the apartment. It looked perfect to Hope. It was just what she and her husband were looking for: near the freeway and close to work. “How much is it?” “For you, it would be $700. And I’ll throw in $200 off the first month’s rent.” The price sounded right, so Hope asked Betsy if she could quickly call her husband. “Sure, go ahead. I’ll meet you back at the rental office. I’ll just be doing some paperwork.” As such, Hope stepped out of the apartment and called Paul. After she and Paul talked, they agreed that Hope should get an application and put a down payment on the apartment. Hope thus walked back over to the office and asked Betsy for an application and to give her a down payment. “You look trustworthy, dear. But go ahead an fill it out anyway, so that I don’t get into trouble with my boss. The down payment will be $100. That will hold the apartment for five days.” With that, Hope filled out the application and gave her a check for $100. Before leaving, Hope asked if she and Paul could come by to see the apartment later that evening. “No problem, but I’ll only be here until six o’clock.”
When Paul got off work, he and Hope came to look at the apartment. They arrived around 5:30 p.m. and went into the office. “Hi, Betsy. This is my husband, Paul.” Suddenly a look of horror came over Betsy’s face when she saw that Paul was African American. “Oh, it is nice to meet you, Paul, but I have terrible news for you.” “What’s wrong?” asked Hope. “Just after you left, another couple came by and rented that apartment. I’m so sorry.” “But I gave you a $100 check to hold it for five days,” said Hope in disbelief. “Yes, but the check had not cleared yet, so my boss told me to just go ahead and rent it to the other couple and to place you guys on a waiting list.” “That doesn’t seem fair,” chimed in Paul, “we were here first.” “I know. I know. But our policy is that if someone has cash in hand, then we do not turn them down.”
Something wasn’t right, and Paul and Hope knew it, but they didn’t know what to do. Unbeknownst to Paul and Hope, there was not another couple seeking to rent the apartment. Rather, Betsy was discriminating against them because of Paul’s race. Betsy, briefly stated, was violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent the apartment to Paul and Hope.
If you have experienced similar treatment, then, please, visit www.sfaganlaw.com to see how we can help. We help tenants (and those seeking apartments) from San Diego to Los Angeles to Fresno to Sacramento to Oakland to San Francisco, and all over the State of California.