What obligation does the Fair Housing Act impose on a landlord confronted with tenant-on-tenant harassment? In Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc., 992 F.3d 676, the Second Circuit upheld dismissal of tenant’s claims against a landlord who failed to take action against a harassing tenant, dismissing tenant’s claims based on intentional discrimination and deliberate indifference. The court’s holding did not give landlords a free pass, but it did establish that to survive dismissal, a harassed tenant’s complaint will have to include more than bare-bones allegations of intentional discrimination.
On approximately eight occasions during 2012, tenant Endres harassed a fellow tenant, Francis, with verbal insults and a death threat. Endres hurled epithets at Francis, who is African American, using the N-word on numerous occasions and at one point saying, “I ought to kill you.” Francis reported these incidents both to the police and to the landlord. The police ultimately arrested Endres for aggravated harassment. Despite three certified letters from Francis complaining of racial harassment and reporting slurs by Andres against Jewish people, landlord took no action against Endres until January 2013, when Endres moved out at the expiration of his lease. Endres subsequently pleaded guilty in state court to the harassment violation and the court issued an order of proration prohibiting him from contacting Francis.