Fair housing advocates have filed a complaint with the federal government against Indianapolis-based property management group AMP Residential, alleging the group has “engaged in systemic discrimination against families with children.”
The complaint, sent Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s Midwest office in Chicago, says the company discriminated at 20 of its properties by having occupancy limits of no more than two people per bedroom in each of its units regardless of square footage.
That’s a problem, said Amy Nelson, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, because there aren’t many rental properties out there that have more than two bedrooms.
“You end up shutting so many people out of the market who really need housing just because they happen to have kiddos in the home,” Nelson said. “I’m always surprised whenever we have to move forward with enforcement action but we’re at a position where we’ll do that if it’s necessary to get practices changed.”
Voicemails left by IBJ to AMP Residential and HUD’s Midwest office were not immediately returned.
AMP Residential is an assumed name used by Apartment Management Professionals LLC, which lists its address as 920 Shadeland Ave.
The Indiana properties named in the complaint are in Evansville and Mishawaka. Most properties in the complaint are in Michigan.
“AMP was found to have denied housing to families with children despite the apartments having ample square footage for the family size to be allowed by local codes,” according to a press release put out by multiple fair housing groups. “Not only were the families prohibited from living in a particular unit, many were denied from the complex altogether due to their family size.”
The complaint follows a joint investigation into the practices by the fair housing groups, including the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana. That was prompted by a woman who contacted the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan about being denied a two-bedroom apartment by the group for herself, her husband and her three children.
The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana did testing at AMP properties in Indiana in January and February of this year to determine whether AMP showed discrimination.
For example, one of its tests had a family of five try to lease a large floor plan at the Addison Place property in Evansville after researching that the floor plan could accommodate five people under Evansville housing laws.
“Each test that we performed at an AMP property … ended in a clear and blatant statement from an employee that a family with children was not permitted to rent the unit that they had inquired about,” said Nancy Haynes, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan. “This is not only unacceptable, it’s illegal.”