The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is conducting a series of fair housing tests of landlords in Waterloo this month. The director of the commission, Ralph Rosenberg, says they’re checking with landlords who advertise and will test to see how they treat someone who is looking to rent that has a child, and someone who doesn’t have children.
Rosenberg says state and local civil rights commissions go out periodically and test landlords to look for any kind of discrimination. He says it’s a way to educate people and to test how good a job the state is doing in complying with the rules. The Waterloo testing also coincides with the 40th anniversary of passage of the federal Fair Housing Act.
Rosenberg says he does things a little differently than some states by publicizing the tests beforehand. "I think we want to try and be up front with people in the community," Rosenberg says, "we’re not out to surprise people, we’re just trying to test compliance with the law. Then we educate and explain." Rosenberg says they’ll continue the tests through April. He says if there’s strong compliance, they’ll report it. And if there are problems, Rosenberg says they’ll contact landlords to work out some agreements. Rosenberg says they’ve had success working out mediated agreements when there are problems.
Rosenberg says these tests will try to determine whether the property owner or manager treated the tester with a minor child less favorably than the tester without children. Rosenberg says they’re using this test because they’ve had some complaints in this area, although he says it’s not their number one complaint. Last year the commission tested for compliance with disability laws in the Des Moines area. Rosenberg says the results of the Waterloo testing will be released by mid-June.