Sunday, December 8, 2013

North Dakota Fair Housing Council v. Peterson case brief

North Dakota Fair Housing Council v. Peterson case brief summary
625 N.W.2d 551 (2001)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellants, the North Dakota Fair Housing Council and an unmarried couple, sued appellee landlords for alleged housing discrimination. The District Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial District (North Dakota) granted summary judgment in appellee landlord's favor, and this appeal followed.

CASE FACTS
Appellant unmarried couple tried to rent from appellees. Appellees refused because the unmarried couple were seeking to cohabit. Appellant Fair Housing Council and appellant couple sued appellees, alleging housing discrimination in violation of N.D. Cent. Code ch. 14-02.4, the North Dakota Human Rights Act (Act).

ISSUE
The issue was whether refusing to rent to appellant couple violated the discriminatory housing practices provision of the Act, N.D. Cent. Code § 14-02.4-12.

DISCUSSION

  • The court determined that the cohabitation statute, N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-20-10,and the discriminatory housing provision were harmonized by recognizing that the cohabitation statute regulated conduct, not status. 
  • Since it was unlawful to openly and notoriously live together as husband and wife without being married, it was not unlawful to deny housing to an unmarried couple seeking to openly and notoriously live together as husband and wife.
CONCLUSION
Judgment was affirmed. Appellees lawfully refused to rent to appellant couple, and the lower court properly granted summary judgment in appellee's favor.

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