A black couple have filed a housing discrimination complaint in California, claiming that an assessor downplayed their rating because of their race, The independent reports.
The first appraisal estimated that their Marin County home cost $ 995,000, while the second time around, the home was valued at $ 1.48 million. However, that assessment came when the couple, Paul and Tenisha Austin, asked a white friend to act as the home owner. They got rid of anything that would reveal the house was owned by a black family, such as artwork and photographs to help sell the ruse.
“We had a conversation with one of our white friends, and she said. ‘No problem. I will be Tenisha. I’ll bring some pictures of my family. She gave the impression that our house belonged to her, ”Tenisha told ABC7 in February.
The Austin are now suing their appraiser, Janette Miller, and her company, Miller and Perotti Real Estate Appraisals. The file cites federal fair housing law, saying it was violated by the assessor because of the couple’s race. In addition to seeking financial damages, the Austin is also asking that the court order the defendants to never discriminate when appraising homes, as well as a jury trial.
The couple bought their home in 2016 for $ 550,000 and have since made $ 400,000 in renovations, including new flooring, a new patio, new appliances and a fireplace.
Likewise, appraisers, including the defendants, continued to use race-based criteria to assess property value, including limiting comparisons to homes in areas of similar racial demographics and valuing areas predominantly white more than others, ”says the complaint.
This underscored Marin County’s historic inclination for stereotyping and redlining. Black residents of the area live primarily in two census tracts, one being Marin City.
“We think the white lady wanted to devalue our property because we are in a black neighborhood and the house was owned by a black family,” Paul told the Chronicle of San Francisco. “I want to see a change. I don’t want my kids to have to deal with this.