Sep 07


As you read the case Ryan Richardson and Ryan Smith are the neighbor defendants.  Neil Hilfinger was the owner/landlord.

Here is a HUD Fair Housing case where neighbors used complaints to the city and landlord to try and force a Black family to vacate.  Well, actually the neighbors succeeded in forcing the family out, which probably was to the neighbors greater detriment.

The neighbors now are facing fines of $16,000 per violation each.  There would appear to be at least 4 violations identified – it could be a lot more.  Plus  damages to the tenants and costs and damages to the Fair Housing Commission. Their  apparent racially motivated actions will be painfully expensive, as it should be.

This is the third case I’ve read where HUD sued neighbors over racially inspired actions against tenants.  There may have been more as I only skim the HUD releases for cases that seem interesting or set new precedence.  In fact I almost did not read this one as the synopsis made is seem like it was just another case against a landlord.

This case is also more important than the others I read as it comes out of HUD Region 5, which covers WI

Note that the landlord was not charged in the complaint.  This would appear to be the result of him reviewing the allegations and ignoring what he saw as unfounded complaints.

Unfortunately there are people who use government resources to effect their own improper goals. Here in Milwaukee, as many of us know, neighbors and city officials use DNS (building inspection) complaints as a club to beat landlords who rent to tenants the neighbors do not like. Sometime times the reasons for neighbors disliking the tenants are legitimate, but too often they are based on racial biases of the neighbors.

You must evict tenants who break the rules. We ask quite a few tenants to leave each year because of problems associated with them or their guests.  Not to do so is not fair to your other tenants, the neighbors and damage caused by bad tenants is often more than the rent you receive.

But you must also thoroughly investigate allegations against your tenants getting as much supporting documentation as you can such as police reports or at least ask the neighbors to give you written statements. You should also make your own observations.

If you simply react to the neighbors threats without seeking documentation you could easily find yourself as a defendant in a Fair Housing case along with or even instead of the neighbors who you were evicting for.

Even if you are not sued by HUD you should want to avoid playing into someone else’s racist agenda.

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