A D.C.-based apartment management company says it mistakenly circulated flyers saying it would refuse to rent units to tenants using housing vouchers, a violation of D.C. law.
Borger Management distributed flyers to the public this week that advertised two months of free rent, no move-in charge, and no amenity fees at one of its buildings. But at the bottom of these flyers, the property company said it would not accept rental payments through housing vouchers.
Pictures of these flyers were posted to Twitter on Tuesday, and many were quick to point out such a policy constitutes housing discrimination. Soon after, the company said it made a mistake.
"Yesterday, Borger Management was made aware of an unfortunate typo in a marketing flyer outside one of our properties in Northwest D.C," said Borger Management Vice President Arianna Royster in an emailed statement to WAMU/DCist.
Royster said the flyers omitted one crucial word — "not."
"The statement should have read: We will not refuse to rent a rental unit to a person because the person will provide the rental payment, in whole or part, through a voucher for rental housing assistance provided by the District or federal government," Royster wrote in the statement.
Under D.C. law, denying a tenant equal access to housing based on the source of their income is illegal.
Joel Cohn, legislative director for the District of Columbia Office of the Tenant Advocate, says to print or publish any materials that indicate preference or discrimination based on numerous factors like sex, race, age, gender, and source of income violates the D.C. Human Rights Act.
"The OTA has seen this periodically with other landlords," he says.
There's currently a bill making its way through the D.C. Council that would require building management companies to explicitly state on written notices and advertising that they will not deny residency to people who pay rent using a city-issued housing voucher.
Housing vouchers are often allocated to low-income renters and people experiencing homelessness. For years, renters have said it's difficult to find stable housing in the region with a housing voucher — and that there's a long waitlist. Some landlords have pushed back, claiming certain vouchers only cover a portion of tenant rent and the required certification process can be arduous.
Over the past few years, the number of available housing vouchers allotted to District residents has dwindled. The city's 2021 budget allocated less money for homeless services, which include housing vouchers.
Housing discrimination is a persistent issue in the District, and building management companies have at times been found to be on the wrong side of the law. Last year, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine sued 16 real estate companies for allegedly discriminating against renters with housing vouchers.
"This was the result of simple human error and the marketing flyers have been removed," Royster wrote in the statement.
This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.