WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced three settlements with real estate companies and professionals accused of posting illegal and discriminatory advertisements against housing voucher holders on online platforms.
As a result of these settlements, the defendants, whose properties are located in in Wards 4 and 8, agreed to maintain anti-discrimination policies, provide anti-discrimination and fair housing training to all employees, and report future complaints of discrimination to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). In addition, the defendants – all of whom cooperated with OAG to resolve the matters before trial – will be required to pay a total of $56,000 in penalties to the District. These settlements follow an earlier set of settlements with housing providers that discriminated against voucher holders that OAG announced this summer.
“As District residents – especially long-term residents – face skyrocketing housing prices that make it difficult to afford homes, housing vouchers are a lifeline for families squeezed financially,” said AG Racine. “We are pleased that these housing providers worked with our office to end their discriminatory practices, provide training, and resolve these cases without trial. With these three settlements, we’re putting real estate companies and professionals on notice that we are watching. Eliminating this illegal discrimination is critical to ensuring that some of the most vulnerable District residents have a safe place to live.”
Civil Rights Protections
The District’s Human Rights Act (DCHRA) broadly outlaws discrimination based on traits including race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and disability. The law also specifically prohibits housing discrimination based on source of income, meaning that landlords cannot refuse to rent to prospective tenants if they use vouchers or other subsidies to pay rent. More than 10,000 low-income District households depend on the federally funded Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly called Section 8 vouchers, to rent housing. Discrimination against voucher holders disproportionately affects Black residents. In the District, more than 90 percent of housing voucher holders are African American, although African American residents make up only 48 percent of the District’s total population.
Inclusions and Associates Real Estate, LLC
In 2019, Michael Bradley, a licensed real estate salesperson working as an agent of Inclusions and Associates Real Estate, LLC, posted at least four discriminatory advertisements for 1414 18th Place SE in Ward 8. The advertisements illegally stated, “The owner is not approved for the Housing Voucher Program,” and were posted on Hotpads.com, Realtor.com, Trulia.com, and Zillow.com.
4316 14th Street, N.W., LLC
In 2020, property manager Aysegul Yuksek posted a discriminatory advertisement for 4316 14th Street NW in Ward 4. The advertisement illegally stated, “Not available for housing vouchers,” and was posted on Craigslist for at least two days.
Porter House International Realty Group, LLC
In 2020, Amaka Akinola, a District-licensed real estate salesperson working as an agent of Porter House International Realty Group, LLC, posted a discriminatory advertisement for 615 Galveston Street SE in Ward 8. The advertisement illegally stated, “No Section 8,” and was posted on Craigslist.org.
Under the terms of individual settlement agreements, Inclusions and Associates Real Estate, LLC; 4316 14th Street, N.W., LLC; and Porter House International Realty Group, LLC will be required to:
- Maintain written anti-discrimination policies: The companies and professionals must create and follow laws banning discrimination based on source of income and other protected categories. They must accept housing assistance, as required by law, and must not post any discriminatory ads.
- Conduct fair housing training for employees: The companies and professionals are required to provide annual fair housing training, including training regarding the DCHRA, to all employees, management, and independent contractors.
- Report compliance to OAG: Each company and professional must provide a yearly statement to OAG for three years, identifying any complaints of discrimination made against them.
- Pay penalties to the District: Inclusions and Associates Real Estate, LLC is required to pay a penalty of $40,000. 4316 14th Street, N.W., LLC is required to pay a penalty of $7,500. Amaka Akinola is required to pay a penalty of $7,500. Porter House International Realty Group, LLC is required to pay a penalty of $1,000.
A copy of the settlement with Inclusions and Associates Real Estate, LLC is available here.
A copy of the settlement with 4316 14th Street, N.W., LLC is available here.
A copy of the settlement with Porter House International Realty Group, LLC is available here.
Protecting Civil Rights
OAG’s Civil Rights Section, established in 2019, investigates and brings lawsuits to challenge discriminatory policies and practices that harm District residents. OAG has filed suit against Daro Management for unlawfully discriminating against low-income renters, and reached settlements with Evolve, LLC and Curtis Investment Group for similar claims, requiring the companies to pay up to $250,000 and $900,000 to the District, respectively. In July 2020, OAG announced a tranche of lawsuits against 16 real estate companies and professionals engaged in illegal source of income discrimination. OAG settled several of those lawsuits in 2021. The office has also worked with Apartments.com and Zillow to fight housing discrimination on their platforms. Additionally, OAG has reached a settlement with a home repair company that illegally refused to do business in certain District neighborhoods. Learn more about the District’s civil rights protections and how OAG is working to enforce them.
OAG has proposed legislation to clarify and make permanent its DCHRA enforcement authority, including the ability to investigate discriminatory practices, issue pre-suit subpoenas, recover significant penalties from wrongdoers, and seek restitution for victims of discrimination. OAG has the authority to bring civil suits against those who commit acts of bias-motivated violence, thanks to legislation recently enacted by the Council.
If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination, you may report it to OAG’s Civil Rights Section by:
- Submitting a civil rights tip online
- Calling (202) 727-3400
- E-mailing OAGCivilRights@dc.gov
- Mailing OAG, ATTN: Civil Rights Section at 400 6th Street NW, Suite 10100, Washington, D.C. 20001
OAG’s civil rights work complements the work of the Office of Human Rights (OHR), which is the primary District agency that investigates individual discrimination complaints. You can file a complaint with OHR at ohr.dc.gov or call 202-727-4559.