Civil Rights Organizations Accuse Asset Campus Housing, Inc. of Housing Discrimination in Kentucky and Michigan

For Immediate Release
July 24, 2018

Contact: Jessica Aiwuyor | 202-898-1661 | jaiwuyor@nationalfairhousing.org

Civil Rights Organizations Accuse Asset Campus Housing, Inc. of Housing Discrimination in Kentucky and Michigan

Complaint alleges that Asset Campus Housing, Inc. made a single mother get a separate lease for her two-year-old daughter.

Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), the Lexington Fair Housing Council (LFHC), the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan (FHCWM), and tenant Maya Moss filed a complaint in federal court against Asset Campus Housing, Inc., alleging housing discrimination by Asset Campus Housing against families with children. Asset Campus Housing is a private rental management company that owns and/or manages hundreds of multi-family properties throughout the United States. After receiving complaints from individuals affected by Asset Campus Housing’s discriminatory policies, the organizational plaintiffs investigated the company for over a year. They allege the evidence collected in the investigation documents Asset Campus Housing’s implementation of discriminatory policies.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on familial status. The complaint makes a number of allegations, including the following:

  • Asset Campus Housing, Inc. enforces policies that seek to exclude or limit families with children from renting its properties.
  • Asset Campus Housing often markets its properties as student housing. However, it does not require tenants to be enrolled in school, and it knowingly rents to non-students.
  • Asset Campus Housing implemented a policy that permits only one person per bedroom for renters of its apartment units.
  • According to Asset Campus policy, each tenant must occupy and lease their own room, even if the tenant is a toddler.

These are highly unreasonable policies that place an undue economic burden on renters based on their familial status. Plaintiff Maya Moss and her daughter comprised a family affected by this policy. Ms. Moss was a 20-year-old student at the University of Louisville when she sought housing at The Arch, a property owned by Asset Campus Housing. Once the company learned that she had a child, they forced Ms. Moss to obtain a separate lease for her two-year-old daughter and pay double the rent.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that single student parents, like Maya Moss, have the highest average unmet need. Ms. Moss has struggled to try to make up for the extra cost burden placed on her by Asset Campus Housing. According to the Institute’s report, only 27 percent of single student parents obtain a degree or certificate within six years, a much lower completion rate than their non-parent peers. Another report documents that 4.8 million students have dependent children and that 43 percent of these families are headed by single women.

“The United States has an increasingly unaffordable rental market. Senator Kamala Harris recently proposed the Rent Relief Act because Americans are unable to keep up with the rising cost of rent. Policies like those of Asset Campus Housing exacerbate the problem for families with children, make it difficult for student parents to graduate with their peers, and unnecessarily increase debt burdens for families with children,” stated Lisa Rice, President and CEO of NFHA. Rice continued, “As a mom, I understand how difficult it is to raise a young child, attend school, and work. Maya is trying to create the best life for her daughter by getting a college education and obtaining secure housing for her family. We should be applauding and supporting her; instead, Asset Campus Housing has chosen to place more obstacles in her way.”

“Though Asset Campus Housing markets itself as student housing, it does not rent exclusively to students. The company’s discriminatory policies are a direct violation of the Fair Housing Act. Fair housing affects every aspect of our lives, including access to quality education, healthcare, and food. It’s disheartening to see a housing provider so flagrantly disregard the law and make life harder for everyday people and families,” added Arthur Crosby, Executive Director of LFHC.

In March of 2017, the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan received a complaint concerning Copper Beech Townhomes, located near Mount Pleasant, Michigan. This is a property managed by Asset Campus Housing. In this case, Asset Campus Housing property managers prevented a couple with a child from renting a two-bedroom townhome because company policy would not allow three people, or more than one person per bedroom, in the townhome. “FHCWM investigated and confirmed that Asset Campus Housing was enforcing this occupancy policy at multiple properties – a policy far more restrictive than any local occupancy or building code. Policies that overly restrict occupancy often serve to immediately disqualify families with children. Asset Campus Housing’s policies and practices don’t just elevate rents; they make it harder for families to put a roof over their heads,” stated Nancy Haynes, Executive Director of FHCWM.

Later in 2017, NFHA conducted an investigation in Kentucky that revealed evidence of Asset Campus Housing actively discouraging families with children from renting at its properties – an outright violation of the Fair Housing Act. An employee at The Nine, an Asset Campus Housing property, allegedly told a NFHA tester, “this is probably not where you want to live,” after learning the tester had two children.

The Lexington Fair Housing Council conducted an investigation in Lexington, Kentucky. LFHC confirmed through testing and phone calls with staff at Asset Campus Housing properties that it enforces a one person per bedroom policy. In March of 2018, a LFHC tester visited University Trails, an Asset Campus Housing property located in Lexington, and was allegedly told by management that she could not rent at University Trails if she had children in her home.

The complaint alleges that Asset Campus Housing’s one person per bedroom policy is intentionally discriminatory against families with children, while having no business or legal justification. The company is not exempt from fair housing laws. The plaintiffs are pursuing the matter to expand equal housing opportunities for families with children – in particular, the 4.8 million student parents in the U.S. – and to stop Asset Campus Housing’s unlawful practices.

The complaint, filed in the Western District of Kentucky, is available here. The plaintiffs are represented by Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC. This investigation was made possible, in part, through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Founded in 1988, NFHA is a consortium of more than 220 private, nonprofit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights agencies, and individuals from throughout the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NFHA works to eliminate housing discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through leadership, education, outreach, membership services, public policy initiatives, community development, advocacy, and enforcement.

The Lexington Fair Housing Council is a full-service, nonprofit civil rights agency committed to eradicating discrimination in housing. The Fair Housing Council enforces the federal Fair Housing Act, the Kentucky Fair Housing Act, and the local fair housing ordinances (where applicable). The Lexington Fair Housing Council is the only private nonprofit fair housing agency in Kentucky and investigates complaints throughout the Commonwealth.

The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan is a private, non-profit fair housing organization committed to providing comprehensive fair housing services, including education, outreach, research, advocacy and enforcement. The Fair Housing Center is the front door to housing choice, ensuring that everyone in our community has equal opportunity to choose housing that’s right for them.

List of Co-Plaintiffs

 

NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING ALLIANCE
1331 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20004

FAIR HOUSING CENTER OF WEST MICHIGAN
20 Hall St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507

LEXINGTON FAIR HOUSING COUNCIL
207 E Reynolds Rd # 130
Lexington, KY 40517

Maya Moss
Louisville, Kentucky

 

 

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