After the birth of their second child, Tika’s landlord insisted that his family couldn’t occupy a single-bedroom apartment anymore and that they should move into a two-bedroom unit. The Timsinas paid an additional $600 deposit and signed a new lease for a two-bedroom unit, however after doing so, the landlord simply ignored them and moved other families into the available units while refusing to return their money.
When Tika confronted the landlord about being moved into a two-bedroom unit, he was told that their current unit needed a pest inspection before they could move. After conducting several inspections, the landlord insisted pests had been detected and said the Timsinas could not move to a new unit until they paid half of the extermination cost—an additional $650 to the already-paid deposit. Reluctantly, Tika paid the fee, however, the months continued to pass and the Timsinas were never moved to a new unit. Feeling hopeless and scared of eviction, Tika contacted the Disability Law Center (DLC).
“The landlord was unwilling to work with Tika on a personal level,” explains Nick Jackson, Fair Housing Attorney at the DLC. “We investigated [the] landlord and found that other people of Tika’s race and ethnicity and refugee status had been subjected to the same treatment so we believed that there had been unlawful discrimination [and] we filed a complaint on Tika’s behalf with the state of Utah.”
In mediation, the DLC was successful in having the initial deposit returned and the Timsinas decided to move away from the complex when their lease expired.
Several months after leaving the complex, Tika received a notice from the landlord demanding $800 for attorney fees acquired during the mediation process. Again, Tika reached out to the DLC for help. After making several attempts to convince the landlord to dismiss the fees, the DLC filed a complaint on Tika’s behalf with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Department sided with the DLC and awarded Tika a settlement.
As a result of their experience with their discriminatory landlord, the Timsinas were motivated to find the means necessary to purchase a home to avoid ever experiencing the same situation again. “I think the DLC is a reason to smile,” says Tika, “because they resolved this case. I’m happy now. I’m proud to say that the DLC has done a wonderful job for people like me.”