Idaho homeowners charged for telling family they had too many kids to rent property, HUD says

The owners and managers of a rental home in Nampa have been charged with violating the Fair Housing Act after allegedly refusing to let a family rent because they had several children, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Friday.

According to the charges, Seth Ott is the property manager for a rental home owned by his parents, Dwight “Steve” and Elizabeth Ott. A mother of seven saw the home in a Craigslist ad, received details, and attempted to sign the required paperwork and pay a deposit.

The mother and father brought two of their children to the meeting with Seth Ott, HUD said, and Ott asked whether those were their only two children. When the mother said they had seven, Ott allegedly told the woman that she should stop signing the papers, as the property had a four-children limit.

“Denying a couple a place to live because they have children robs them of the opportunity to establish a stable home for their family and is a violation of the law,” HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Anna María Farías said in a press release. “Today’s action reinforces HUD’s commitment to protecting the right of every home seeker to obtain housing, regardless of their family make-up.”

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to limit housing based on a number of children younger than 18 and illegal to set different rules for families based on size.

The charge will be heard by a U.S. administrative law judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court, according to a news release.

“If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he or she may award damages to the complainants for their loss as a result of the discrimination,” the press release states. “The judge may also order other injunctive or equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees.”

The judge may also impose civil penalties.

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