Group of Parents in Concord Sue Landlord Over Alleged Discrimination Against Families with Kids

December 20, 2013 8:00 am · 41 comments

A group of tenants at a Concord apartment complex filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against their landlord alleging discrimination against families with children.

Eight sets of parents living at Huntington Arms Apartments at 1740 Detroit Ave. allege that they have faced repeated discriminated from the building’s management for having children.

The complaint alleges that starting in 2011, the apartment complex’s manager, who has since left her post, regularly yelled at children for playing in the complex’s common areas during the day and informed tenants that the landlord planned to evict large families.

Calls to the apartment complex manager’s office were not immediately returned.

A year ago, the plaintiffs teamed with Tenants Together to file a complaint against the landlord with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing over the alleged discrimination.

Last month, the department filed its own complaint against the complex’s landlords, Peter Carlson and Joan Bull, the manager, Theresa Lewis Ratcliff, and management company CB Family Investments Co. following an investigation into the tenants’ allegations.

The tenants’ lawsuit, filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court on Wednesday, seeks compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief. While three of the families involved in the lawsuit are still living at Huntington Arms, one of the families moved out as a result of the alleged discrimination, according to attorney Leah Simon-Weisberg, legal director of Tenants Together.

The attorney credited the families for their persistence and courage in standing up for their rights.

“There’s a lot of discrimination against families with children, and it’s a kind of discrimination that people often suffer silently,” she said. “It’s very concerning when landlords think it’s okay to try and push them out.”

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{ 41 comments }

1 Horse'n Around December 20, 2013 at 8:27 AM

Well it did say, planned to evict large families. Are we talking about 10 people living in a 2 bedroom apt? I remember growing up in Concord in my 20′s, looking to rent an apt. It was myself and a girlfriend. We wanted a 2 bedroom apt. We were told back then that only 4 people could occupy a 2 bedroom apt. 2 people per bedroom. Now a days, they let 10 people occupy a 2 bedroom. How times have changed.

2 anoonn December 20, 2013 at 8:32 AM

While I don’t agree with blanket discrimination against families with children ( I have several myself), I wonder if the problem is with the behavior of the kids. It’s one thing to have them play in the common areas, it’s quite another if they are obnoxious, out-of-control and undisciplined, as well as unattended. Think of the liability issues, as well as the disruption to other families, who might want some relative peace and quite while in their homes.

3 unknown December 20, 2013 at 8:35 AM

I think the landlord has the right to ask them to move. The reason is, if you move in without children, then having children violates the lease. I sure a lot of people would like a place where children are not allow. I know I would.
What about how many people can live in a one room, two room or three room apartment?
If any tenant becomes a problem, the landlord should have the right to make them leave.

4 martinezdad December 20, 2013 at 8:50 AM

People often have to suffer large families with kids silently:-) especially if the parents don’t watch them

5 Howard K Mullins III December 20, 2013 at 9:10 AM

The owner of the building can decide who can move in and who cannot, its his property. If people become a problem, the owner can ask them to leave. Its the owners property. He should not be forced to rent to people he does not want on his property.

6 erpenndipity December 20, 2013 at 9:27 AM

I think the landlord has the right to ask them to move even though it may seem morally wrong.

7 Ernie December 20, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Good comments so far on this problem. As a previous landlord, I know some of the problems of renting to a mother–Usually–with one child or two, but when you only have two BRs, it gets a little obnoxious when you see six, eight, ten, or how many coming out of that apt. And, when the landlord is paying for the water and garbage, it gets a little spendy. As for the kids playing in the common area, they usually make messes that need cleaning up, along with a noise factor that is out of control, and then running around, playing tag or whatever, and run in front of vehicles driving near the common areas, so…quite dangerous. Very few families are concerned about others in the apartment complexes, so I can understand fully, why they’re cracking down on this problem. And, as Unknown mentioned, the landlord should have some rights, also.

8 bumper morgan December 20, 2013 at 10:00 AM

How many names of those suing end in -EZ?

9 Tamara December 20, 2013 at 10:00 AM

According to HUD housing laws: you are allowed 2 people per bedroom and one in the living room. So if you rent a 2 bedroom place you are allowed a total of 5 people in the home, apartment, etc. HUD sets the federal/state housing standards for all multi-family dwellings as well as mobile homes. So yes a landlord should have the right to evict if you are over the limit of people. However if it’s just because the kids playing are a problem that is discrimination. Or redlining as it is called and that is illegal!

10 Sounds Good to me. December 20, 2013 at 10:21 AM

I know of these apartments and they are small. They were built back in the 60′s I’m almost certain.
These people, and yes I’ll say it probably illegal immigrants like to have between 5 -10 all in one apartment. They’re probably on section 8, with food stamps going to school on our dime, while are kids don’t get the same benefits.
Perhaps the landlord should drop a dime to ICE, then he probably wouldn’t have a problem as well as some vacant units.

11 As a landlord myself I do not think we are being told the whole story! December 20, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Lets not become to judgmental before we get the other side of the story.

Lets hand it to Claycord again…..

Another one sided story… Hey way to go I think you should work on your reporting.

Try to be less one sided and stop saying this is what others are reporting that is just weak for an excuse.

Stop being a lemming! Make your own way.

12 NoMoreFreeRide December 20, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Now you’re telling me there’s a problem with too many people in one apartment in Monument corridor? How can that be? Illegal day cares and multiple families in a single unit nothing new. And garage sales out front of the complexes every weekend. Looks great in the neighborhood.

13 Dorothy December 20, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Is it suppose to an adult only complex? If not, then the children should be allowed to live and play there. I see in the notes above this one where there a legal limit of the number of people allowed in a rental. Actually, I have never heard of that before so it might be news to people with larger families. (Yeah, ignorance of the law and all that.) I didn’t see any numbers in the article so what are they calling a large family?

If you want real discrimination, go back a few years.

14 I agree with posts #3 and 5 December 20, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Absolutely, the landlord has the right (and the responsibility to other tenants) to ask people who have too many children running around, making noise, etc. to leave. Whenever tenants sign a lease, they are required to comply with certain rules and behaviors, which includes not making too much noise and disturbing their neighbors.

Just because you pay your rent on time, doesn’t mean your children can behave in an obnoxious manner. There is no discrimination “against large families” here. IF these parents had kids who were never cried, yelled and made any noise, ran around the complex – I am sure that there would be no reason for him to ask them to leave.

Too bad other landlords are not this strict with their tenants :(

15 Jim December 20, 2013 at 11:13 AM

As a former maintenance man for a large complex on detroit I can tell you that this does not surprise me. I had seen on numerous occasins where there is one name on the lease and upto 3 families living in a 2 bedroom apartment…they had rooms devided with sheets and hot plates in bedrooms…there was even one where the y had a family living on their balcony…so while I do no condone discrimination…let’s get all the facts…the problem is the landlord has to give 24 hour notice before they can go into an aprtment…plenty of time to totally make it look like one family…So I would say the case is unfounded also…since it’s in a sactuary city I’m gonna bet the landlord gets bent over the judges desk and given it hard from behind…Concord will back the tenants for the votes as would any official in this liberal hell we call California…I say Good luck to the landlord but it’s a lost cause

16 RanchgirlCA December 20, 2013 at 11:37 AM

If you have children and want them to have someplace to run around, the hallway and lobby of an apartment building isn’t the place for it. If that’s where you live, then you need to take them someplace else – like the park. I lived in many apartments growing up and we were never allowed to run around hallways or the lobby as if it was the playgroud. If children are an issue for the building (liabilty if they get hurt while playing in the hall or lobby) or disturbing other tenants, then the management should be able to tell them to control the kids or move. This is part of apartment life. Duh…

17 The Grant December 20, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Think Jim nails it…

18 Mizz Bones December 20, 2013 at 12:31 PM

living next door to loud obnoxious children I can’t blame them.
Many landlords do not want loud messy kids, since they own the place they have a right to decide. Blame the parents for not having control, they are the ones that should be sued.

19 nytemuvr December 20, 2013 at 12:38 PM

They bulldozed mine and my grandparents original homes in the late 60s to make way for Huntington Arms. Bastards!!!! Wish I had our apple tree from there, but it’s gone too.

20 WL December 20, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Under California law, unless the property is for seniors, landlords cannot discriminate against tenants with children. However, if tenants or their children cause damage, violated the terms of the lease, or created a nuisance for other tenants, a landlord has the right to terminate the lease, giving three days’ notice.

All landlords, renters and prospective renters ought to read the California Tenants handbook, available here:
http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/

It goes over discrimination issues. There’s a PDF version and it’s available in Spanish.

I’m no lawyer, just someone with some familiarity of housing issues who used to live in a very nice apartment complex on Detroit with children (and had wonderful managers). I agree we don’t know the whole story, but there are a lot of assumptions being made regarding what did or did not happen and who the tenants were, including their racial background. I find that unfortunate.

Whatever the facts, I hope the situation can be resolved amicably.

21 Chris December 20, 2013 at 1:57 PM

The first things some will throw at you if you have an issue with them as their landlord is race. Or something else. Not the real issue, like not paying rent. Me and my wife manage property and have seen it all about. On the same not my wife has been discriminated against and she said it was obvious. So it does happen. However, it is tricky being a landlord. Renting. We had a house for rent and did not rent to one lady who was black. She started in on discrimination, was going to sue us… Called me a racist. I said, ” that’s funny because we have rented to black people before, and actually just two months ago rented to a black lady and her son who live in the house right across the street from us. Great tenants and neighbors. She hung up. It was not her race, it was her credit and other things, and also sometimes it comes down to a decision. We have a system, and have to be very careful. We do not look at race etc. We look at other things. Then make a decision. That lady who called me a racists should get her facts strait before throwing that word around.

22 Elwood December 20, 2013 at 2:50 PM

@ Howard #5

” Its the owners property. He should not be forced to rent to people he does not want on his property.”

Au contraire, Howard. Our dimmiecrat federal and state governments have decided in their infinite wisdom that the rights of indigent minorities trump the rights of property owners.

23 Yucky December 20, 2013 at 3:39 PM

As a Detroit resident, I can tell you the children are not supervised and are unruly. One lady was so sick of it she threw water on them. CPS should visit and notate conditions. Sometimes the children will participate in purposely annoying someone if the parents guide them to do so. Including vehicular vandalism. If this landlord is persecuted in any way, then the over occupancy laws of Concord units should be enforced. The landlord may actually be following the law by not over occupying the units. I think all the bleeding heart types should have to live in the third world like conditions Detroit Ave has turned into. We are doing these immigrants(illegal aliens or not) a disservice by not helping them to understand that they have a second chance at a better life by escaping the adversity that brought them here, not just to recreate the same horrid conditions they fled from. It is essentially turning a first world nation into a third world nation,. Assimilation is key……

24 anon December 20, 2013 at 3:56 PM

So the manager is gone, and they still want to cash in, claiming to be victims. And people wonder why rents are so high. Who would want to rent to anyone these days? It’s the same reason I don’t hire.

25 Howard K Mullins III December 20, 2013 at 4:01 PM

@ Elwood, I understand that. My sentence should have been worded better.

“Its the owners property. He should not be forced by any government entity to rent to people he does not want on his property.”

That he is forced to rent to people he might not care to have on his property is a travesty to American Freedoms.

26 Concord Mike December 20, 2013 at 7:06 PM

Sounds like an abuse of the legal system to me.

Who is the community activist group “Tenants Together”, and why are they encouraging these poor tenants to sue ? The property manager has been replaced and the problem solved. What is the REAL agenda here?

Could be a well intentioned effort to help tenants, or it could be a landlord shakedown operation in the making. Anyone know anything about “Tenants Together”?

27 anon December 20, 2013 at 7:56 PM

I’m surprised there werent a lot more hysterical comments for the families. I was wondering as well, ‘how many people/children are living in the apt.’ what’s annoying is when there are rules such as how many people can live in a certain size apt and ones abide by the rule and then others dont and the mgt. does nothing.

28 jason December 20, 2013 at 8:07 PM

u people are horrible. yelling at children is not cool. Mexican family’s have good values . what you want tweeks instead. half of concord is Hispanic you idiots. the keep the apartments and a lot of homes full. they also out work the white guys most of the time. just admit it most of you hate kids. u forget we where all kids once. why don’t you all donate toys for tots the go volunteer at the monument crisis center.

29 Atticus Thraxx December 20, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Only thing worse than landlords, is other people’s kids.

30 Cowellian December 20, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Jason@28,
Try that again, using real words in real sentences, this time.

31 BCuzItzClaycord December 20, 2013 at 10:56 PM

Jason @ 28 – try that in English.
Sadly by what I see Concord officials have zero regard for HUD regulation and the county Housing Authority which administers Section 8 assistance doesn’t seem to do any follow-up for fraud and HUD violations. As for landlords – leases need to be clear as to how many occupants are allowable by HUD regulations and the consequences for violating those regulation which should be include eviction. This means that no more than 5 people in a 2 bedroom unit and when person #6 moves in they eviction process starts.

32 Pro Fi December 20, 2013 at 11:11 PM

@ ConcordMike- “Tenants Together is a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of California tenants to safe, decent and affordable housing. As California’s only statewide renters’ rights organization, Tenants Together works to improve the lives of California’s tenants through education, organizing and advocacy. Tenants Together seeks to galvanize a statewide movement for renters’ rights.”

Member Organizations:
Affordable Housing Advocates
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Law Caucus
California Affordable Housing Law Project
Causa Justa :: Just Cause
Coalition for Economic Survival
Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto
Eviction Defense Center (Oakland)
Eviction Defense Collaborative (San Francisco)
Eviction Defense Network (Los Angeles)
Fair Housing Council of Riverside County
Fair Rent Coalition
Grassroots Leadership Network of Marin
Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco
Inner City Law Center
Isla Vista Tenants Union
Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County
Legal Assistance to the Elderly
National Housing Law Project
San Francisco Tenants Union
Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights
Sunny Acres Residents Association
Tenants Legal Center of San Diego
Tenderloin Housing Clinic

33 Making a difference December 21, 2013 at 8:09 AM

If all of us would practice empathy, the ending of the story would be better! I agree with most of your comments. Most of them are true because I witnessed that happening in the Monument corridor. I do not reside there, but as a mother and a concerned citizen I organized community meetings at a particular apartment complex. The children were not supervised and they were left outside until 10 or 11 at night. They were throwing rocks at cars and just being plain disrespectful to any adult who would ask them to stop. I printed some flyers and delivered them around the the court (3 apartment buildings). We gathered on a weekly basis and I gave the parents some facts about the upbringing of this children and the negative impact the will be to society later on. I held parents responsible for their children’s behavior in a caring but firm manner. They all cooperated and things changed for the better. One of the rules was that no child was to be outside unsupervised; the moms would take turns sitting outside watching them. Blessings to all the families who struggle everyday to survive and to all of you as well!! :)

34 J. December 21, 2013 at 8:49 AM

@Cowellian
Don’t you have your ghettotalk goggles on?

35 To the dude named Jason December 21, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Get a clue, man. If children are making too much noise, a rent paying tenant has the right to tell them to behave, and to STFU. lets face it – from my observations, most parents (whether they are hispanic or not) in apartment complexes do not discipline their kids in any way, probably because they believe their children are angels who cannot do any wrong.

Your mentality and neglect to discipline children appropriately is one of primary reasons why I left Concord.

And what the hell does “donating toys for tots” and “working at the Monument Crisis Center ” have to do with the discussion on this thread?

36 Tara Brown December 22, 2013 at 10:09 AM

I am a single mother with 3 children. I have always had to list my children on the lease so the apartment manager is well aware of who is in my apartment. I allow my children to play in the common areas with the other children. I work for the state. I deal with so much nonsense from property management companies, NOT the owner, whom you rarely see. These owner’s dont give a rat’s you know what about the properties they only care about the money. I can’t believe all the racist comments on this feed. It must be nice to live in the perfect world some of you seem to live in. I pay for water garbage and sewer in my apartment. For people who don’t like kids, hers’s a clue move into a house NOT an apartment complex. It’s easier to be a hermit who doesn’t have to deal with people that way.

37 JRConcord December 22, 2013 at 12:27 PM

I live at and manage a 30 unit complex. It is a challenge to manage the kids and you cant stop them from playing. But you can set rules and enforce them. If some of the kids are total brats. Video their behavior show it the most resposible parent. let them know this is not acceptable, you know disrectful. Problem solved, if not they get a 60 day notice to move. Did it once 3 years ago, so they residents know i am serious.
Now if I could stop the neghbors from using our laundry ansd dumpsters….
O the joys of property management

38 JRConcord December 22, 2013 at 12:29 PM

ya I re read it and have made note of my spelling errors. :-p

39 Marissa December 22, 2013 at 1:36 PM

The apartment manager may have been right or may have been wrong. It really depends on how the kids are raised.

40 Jerk December 22, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Good luck! Government will protect these future Soldiers!
Best thing to do is Move to mobile home where it’s senior only. It has nothing to do with “hating” kids, kids are loud – they are being kids, but some people are more sensitive to noise than others.

41 macawlady December 23, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Noise can be a problem anywhere. We live in a mobile home park and have been here for almost 15 years. When we first moved here, it was nearly all seniors. Now most of the seniors are gone and more families with children have moved in. And yes, it’s gotten much noisier. Kids will be kids – we don’t expect them to be silent! Sometimes neighborhoods change. What can you do? We may move eventually but due to health problems it probably won’t be soon. In the meantime we just have to tolerate the noise. What else can we do?

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