Landlords can’t limit rentals to students


A housing advocacy group says it's settled a federal court suit against a local landlord who tried to limit apartment rentals to Northwestern University students.

The settlement agreement resolves the suit filed under federal fair housing laws against Bernsen Management by the Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs.

In a news release, Interfaith said the agreement, reached last month, prohibits Bernsen from engaging in discriminatory practices based upon familial status.

The Bernsens denied the allegations in the suit and the settlement was entered into without an admission of liability.

The case involved an NU student who wanted to sublet the bedroom she was renting in a Bernsen building and questioned the company's written policy that limited sublets to Northwestern University students and specified that each apartment could be occupied by no more than three roommates.

Interfaith says that when it had testers who said they had families inquire about renting units in the building, Bernsen said the property would not be suitable for them.

While federal law explicitly bars discrimination in housing based on "familial status," Evanston ordinances require landlords to discriminate on that basis by barring rental of properties to more than three unrelatied individuals while permitting larger groups of related persons to share the same dwelling.

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