An apartment complex in California owned by a Christopher Newport University professor is the subject of a landlord-tenant dispute in Concord, Calif.
The California advocacy group Tenants Together is representing families that claim they were discriminated against because they had too many children. The group has filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, according to Leah Simon-Weisberg, attorney for Tenants Together.
But Peter Carlson, the Christopher Newport University professor who owns Huntington Arms Apartments in Concord, said that the issue has nothing to do with discrimination or children.
"It's really a question of occupancy limits," said Carlson, who previously lived in California.
A letter sent by Huntington Arms management says up to three residents should live in one-bedroom apartments, and up to five residents should live in two-bedroom apartments.
Carlson said no one was evicted based on the letter. But Simon-Weisberg said the letter "created a real environment of fear" among the mostly-Hispanic tenants of the 32-unit complex. A group of tenants staged a protest in July, and there were stories in the Contra Costa Times newspaper and on San Francisco's KCBS, a local television news station.
Whether Huntington Arms has the legal ability to limit occupancy the way it was spelled out in the letter is in dispute. Simon-Weisberg said they don't, but Carlson said Huntington Arms is following federal guidelines.
Simon-Weisberg said the rules discriminate against large families.
Ken Brans, an attorney in California who represents Carlson, declined to comment on the details of the dispute through the media, but he told the Daily Press that there is "no basis" for the accusations.
"He's a very honest, sincere and non-discriminatory person," said Brans, referring to Carlson. "Allegations are easily made."
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