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Relman, Dane & Colfax Sues Largest Private "Student Housing" Provider For Alleged Discrimination Against Families With Children

On July 24, 2018, Relman, Dane & Colfax filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky alleging that Asset Campus Housing, Inc., which claims to be the largest third-party student housing management company in the country, discriminates against families with children at a number of its properties in Michigan and Kentucky by enforcing a discriminatory one-person per bedroom occupancy policy. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Lexington Fair Housing Council, the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and Maya Moss--a college student with a young child who rents housing from the Defendant in Louisville, Kentucky.

While Asset Campus Housing advertises itself as a student housing management company, it does not require residents to be enrolled in any college or university. The lawsuit alleges that the company prefers to rent to young, single tenants and enforces a one-person per bedroom occupancy policy to attract its desired tenant population. Under the Defendant's policy, each tenant must pay separately to rent his or her own bedroom and cannot share bedrooms, no matter how large the bedrooms and no matter that young children are part of the household. The lawsuit alleges that even in circumstances in which a family with children is willing to rent every bedroom in an apartment, and pay rent for each bedroom, Asset Campus Housing still enforces its one-person per bedroom policy and will not allow, for example, a couple with a child to rent a two-bedroom apartment. The lawsuit alleges that Asset Campus Housing's restrictive occupancy policy has the purpose and effect of excluding families with children from rental housing and has a disproportionate adverse impact on families with children.

As a result of the Defendant's policy, Plaintiff Maya Moss was prohibited from sharing a bedroom with her two-year old daughter and was forced instead to sign two lease agreements at twice the amount of rent.

The organizational Plaintiffs conducted testing at Asset Campus Housing's properties in Michigan and Kentucky, which revealed additional evidence of intentional discrimination against families with children. A rental agent told a tester with children that "this is probably not where you want to live" and encouraged her to seek housing from other housing providers. At another property, Defendant's employees told testers that tenants under the age of 16 could not reside at its properties and that children were not permitted to use any of the property's amenities. Plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, punitive damages, and an injunction to prevent the Defendant from continuing to enforce its policy.

Relman, Dane & Colfax's litigation team is led by Steve Dane, Jia Cobb, and Sara Pratt. Morgan Williams, General Counsel for the National Fair Housing Alliance, also represents the National Fair Housing Alliance in the litigation as co-counsel.