Real Estate Housing Discrimination: What You Need to Know

A large family in West Michigan was denied housing in 2019 for no other reason than that they had too many children. The Iacopelli family is suing Greenridge Realty, NAI Wisinski of West Michigan, and the Cascade Place Condominium Association. The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan thinks that the family has a winning case.

The Iacopelli brood is four strong and growing. The family has two boys and two girls, all between the ages of 1 and 9. Another boy is due in the coming February. The Iacopellis sold their house and were in the process of getting a new place when the process fell through. So, they arranged to move into a rental at Cascade Place Condominiums. Then, they ran into trouble.

What Happened to the Iacopelli Family?

The Iacopelli parents found an attractive condo in a cul-de-sac development called Cascade Place. The Iacopellis were told that they were able to move in on Wednesday, and they thought it was perfect. The family rented moving trucks and storage facilities and were packed up and ready to go. Then, they received a text message that their rental was no longer available for them because their family size exceeded the 5-person occupancy limit.

Housing Discrimination Case for the Iacopelli Family

The Iacopellis sued, and their case was taken up by the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, which looks into housing discrimination. The agency has 50 similar cases in motion. Representatives from the group point out that there are state occupancy standards related to home size, but that the 5-person limit was arbitrarily decided upon by the condo company, a means to prevent large non-family groups like college students from living in the house. As large non-family households of 6 or more account for only 0.2% of Michigan households, the attorney who filed the suit for the Iacopellis believes that the number restriction looks neutral but impacts families. Additionally, many see the case as a civil rights issue that limits housing freedom based on a family’s size. Furthermore, they believe that this goes against the dream of raising a family with children in West Michigan.

A case like this highlights the importance of using a real estate platform like Propy, which can help you transact on your property quickly. Propy may not deal with occupancy standards, but it does try to make the process of buying and selling homes smooth. Perhaps, as technologies like those offered by Propy become more widely used, families like the Iacopellis could have bypassed their temporary rental entirely, as their home purchase would not have been so problematic.


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