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Landlord banned from renting Richmond properties, fined $25,000 after discrimination lawsuit

Posted at 7:08 AM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 12:36:18-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond landlord was banned from renting properties for five years after a federal lawsuit accused her of discriminating against certain tenants.

The details are outlined in a settlement agreement between Housing Opportunities Made Equal and Teresa Vetter.

Two years ago, the private fair housing agency sued Vetter after investigating complaints she showed preference to renters who didn’t have disabilities and renters who had no children under 18.

It is something CEO Heather Crislip said HOME has seen happen more often during the pandemic.

“I’m guessing that has to do with children being home more often and landlords finding that to be a burden," Crislip said. "But we think it’s important that people understand the consequences of violating the Fair Housing Act.”

In settling the lawsuit, Vetter agreed to sell her rental properties, she cannot be a landlord for five years, must pay $25,000 to HOME, and take mandatory fair housing training.

Crislip said she hoped this case would prompt other landlords to brush up on fair housing laws and new tenant protections.

“We are also seeing a significant increase in the source of income cases that are coming in. That could be a landlord refusing to take a housing choice voucher. That could be a landlord refusing to take payments based on the Rent and Mortgage Relief Program or other kinds of mortgage and rent assistance that’s coming online during the pandemic,” Crislip explained.

She said she believed the repercussions Vetter faces are fair and hopes it’ll send a strong message to others.

“I think it’s a moment when landlords should pay attention to the Fair Housing Act because life just isn’t on autopilot and they need to remind themselves of the parameters we have all agreed to in the housing market,” Crislip said.

CBS 6 News reached out to Teresa Vetter through her attorney.

He said she declined to comment on the settlement.

Crislip said anyone who believes they are victims of discriminatory housing practices should contact HOME at 804-354-0641.