One of the nation’s largest managers of off-campus student housing has discriminated against Kentucky children and families and is violating the federal Fair Housing Act, three fair housing groups allege in a federal lawsuit.
The lawsuit filed by the Lexington Fair Housing Council, the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan alleges Asset Campus Housing forces tenants to occupy and lease separate bedrooms, even if the second tenant is a small child, and enforces policies that seek to exclude or limit families.
The Houston-based company markets its properties to college students, but it does not require tenants to be enrolled in a school. The company makes each person in a multiple-bedroom apartment sign a lease, according to the lawsuit, even though they share common areas, such as a living room and kitchen.
The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Louisville.
The three nonprofit housing groups said in a written statement they investigated Asset Campus Housing properties in Michigan and Kentucky for more than a year.
Maya Moss, a University of Louisville student, was forced to lease two bedrooms at The Arch, a Louisville apartment complex run by Asset Campus Housing, once management learned she had a 2-year-old daughter, the lawsuit said.
“They forced Ms. Moss to obtain a separate lease for her 2-year-old daughter and pay double the rent,” according to a written statement from the nonprofit groups.
The Lexington Fair Housing Council also conducted an investigation of University Trails, a Red Mile Road property managed by Asset Campus Housing. In March, a tester visited the property and was allegedly told by management she could not rent at University Trails if she had children.
An investigator with the National Fair Housing Alliance also visited The Nine in Louisville, another Asset Campus Housing property in Kentucky. An employee of The Nine told the investigator “this is probably not where you want to live” after learning the person had children, the lawsuit alleges.
It’s not clear how many properties in Kentucky that Asset Campus Housing manages or owns.
An official with Asset Campus Housing did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On its website, the company says it is the nation’s largest manager of private campus housing and owns more than 200 properties across the country.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on familial status.
The complaint alleges that Asset Campus Housing’s policy requiring only one person per bedroom is intentionally discriminatory against families and has no business or legal justification.
“Though Asset Campus Housing markets itself as student housing, it does not rent exclusively to students,” said Art Crosby, executive director of Lexington Fair Housing Council. “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, health care, and food. It’s disheartening to see a housing provider so flagrantly disregard the law and make life harder for everyday people and families.”