Yesterday, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) settled a federal lawsuit against landlord Steven Stubenrauch. The suit alleged that Stubenrauch violated the federal Fair Housing Act by engaging in racial discrimination in the rental of an apartment in Slidell, Louisiana. As a result of the settlement, Stubenrauch will pay $15,000 in damages to GNOFHAC. Further, Stubenrauch will relinquish rental management of all current and future properties to a professional property management company.
In response to suspected discrimination on the North Shore, GNOFHAC conducted an undercover investigation of housing providers in the area and discovered the alleged discrimination. The complaint alleged that Stubenrauch repeatedly misrepresented the availability of his advertised rental property to African-Americans because of their race.
GNOFHAC sent trained mystery shoppers posing as apartment seekers to inquire about the property’s availability. The investigation uncovered that each time an African-American mystery shopper contacted Stubenrauch about the apartment, he said that it was unavailable for inspection or rental, stating that the tenant had not yet vacated and that substantial repairs were required. During the same period of time, he invited three white testers to inspect the vacant unit and apply to rent it.
In addition to paying damages and relinquishing control of the rental of his properties, the settlement requires that Mr. Stubenrauch:
James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director, comments, “No one should be excluded from renting a home because of their race. But through fair housing mystery shopping, we uncovered clear evidence that Mr. Stubenrauch was engaged in blatant discrimination against prospective African American tenants, solely on the basis of their race. We are pleased to be able to chip away at discriminatory housing practices through this settlement agreement but encourage anyone who suspects they may have been discriminated against because of their race while trying to rent a home to report their suspicions to the Fair Housing Action Center as soon as possible.”
The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) is a private nonprofit organization. GNOFHAC is dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination and furthering equal housing opportunities through education, outreach, advocacy, and enforcement of fair housing laws across the metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. The activities described in this release were privately funded.
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