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Giron de Reyes v. Waples Mobile Home Park Limited Partnership

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

April 18, 2017

ROSY GIRON DE REYES, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
WAPLES MOBILE HOME PARK LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          T. S. Ellis, III United Stutes District Judge

         At issue in this housing discrimination case are the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. On May 23, 2016, plaintiffs, eight current or former residents of Waples Mobile Home Park (“the Park”), filed a six-count Complaint against the Park's owners and operators[1] in response to defendants' enforcement of a policy (the “Policy”) that, in plaintiffs' view, (1) impermissibly discriminates on the basis of race, national origin, alienage, and citizenship, (2) violates the terms of their lease agreements, and (3) violates a Virginia statute regulating mobile home parks. Plaintiffs comprise four married couples, and each plaintiff is a non-citizen of Salvadorian or Bolivian national origin.

         The remaining causes of action are:

• Count I: Violation of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq. (brought by all plaintiffs);
• Count II: Violation of the Virginia Fair Housing Law (“VFHL”), Va. Code § 36-96.3 et seq. (brought by all plaintiffs);
• Count III: Violation of the Virginia Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act (the “Rental Act”), Va. Code § 55-248.41 et seq. (brought by only the male plaintiffs);
• Count IV: Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (brought by all plaintiffs); and
• Count V: Breach of contract (brought by only the male plaintiffs).[2]

         As the summary judgment motions have been fully briefed and argued orally, they are now ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion must be granted in part and denied in part, and plaintiffs' cross motion must be denied.

         I.

         The following undisputed material facts are derived from the parties' statements of fact, as well as the summary judgment record.

• Each plaintiff is an adult Latino of Salvadorian or Bolivian national origin who currently resides in Virginia. None of the plaintiffs is a United States citizen.
• The female plaintiffs entered the United States illegally and thus are unlawfully present in the country.
• The male plaintiffs have passed criminal background checks, have Social Security Numbers, and had sufficient income and credit to rent lots at the Park.
• The four male plaintiffs were able to enter leases at the Park. Their wives, the four female plaintiffs, were not signatories on the leases.
• The lease application forms required the male plaintiffs to list all adult occupants of the male plaintiffs' mobile homes.
• Three of the male plaintiffs did not list their wives on their lease applications.[3]
• Nevertheless, the female plaintiffs lived with their husbands in the Park, which is located within the Eastern District of Virginia.
• Plaintiffs' children reside with plaintiffs and are United States citizens with Social Security Numbers.
• By 2014, defendants knew that Mr. Reyes's wife was living at the Park with her husband.[4]
• Before 2015, the male plaintiffs were also able to-and did-renew year-long leases at the Park until 2015.
• Yet, in 2015, defendants enforced the Policy for the male plaintiffs' lease renewals, requiring the male plaintiffs to submit documentation for all adult occupants in the plaintiffs' homes.[5]
• At the relevant time periods, the Policy required all applicants seeking to rent at the Park to provide government-issued photo identification (including a Passport), and proof of lawful presence in the United States, such as a Social Security Card.
• The Policy further provided that “Applicants who do not have a Social Security number[] must provide their original Passport, original U.S. Visa[, ] and original Arrival/Departure Form (I-94 or I-94W).” Compl. Ex. A.
• Similarly, defendants' “Future Resident Information Guides” published on May 13, 2015 and March 31, 2016 also state that adults without a Social Security Number must provide an original passport, original U.S. Visa, and original I-94 forms in order to reside at the Park.
• Today, residents at the Park may satisfy the Policy by producing documents besides an original passport, such as (1) a permanent resident card (Form 1-551 or I-151), (2) a temporary resident card (Form I-688A), or (3) a border crossing card.[6]
• Because the female plaintiffs entered the United States illegally, they cannot satisfy the Policy. In other words, because the female plaintiffs are illegal aliens, they do not have- and cannot acquire-a U.S. Visa, an original I-94 form, or any authentic document to prove their lawful residence in the United States.
• Once defendants began enforcing the Policy, the male plaintiffs would have been able to renew their leases provided they complied with the Policy and ensured that each adult occupant in their homes had supplied defendants with the requisite documents to show lawful presence in the United States.
• Defendants never used the male plaintiffs' statuses as Latinos to deny the male plaintiffs the right to enter into rental agreements at the Park.
• Defendants never used the male plaintiffs' statuses as non-U.S. citizens to deny the male plaintiffs the right to enter into rental agreements at the Park.
• Other Latinos and non-United States citizens entered into leases at the Park in 2015 and 2016-the same period of defendants' alleged discrimination against plaintiffs.
• Some of the individuals who entered into leases at the Park in 2015 and 2016 were Latino non-citizens.
• Approximately 60% of the residents at the Park are Latino.
• As of 2014, defendants advertised to Latinos for one of defendants' related properties.
• Defendants employ Latinos and Spanish-speakers in the Park's property management office.
• The male plaintiffs do not read English, but nonetheless were able to execute leases at the Park.
• Some of the male plaintiffs permitted adults to reside in plaintiffs' mobile homes in the Park even though those adults were not listed on the male plaintiffs' leases or rental agreements.
• In March 2014, defendants reminded plaintiff Reyes that his wife needed to satisfy the Policy for her to continue residing at the Park.
• Notwithstanding the fact that his wife could not satisfy the Policy, Mr. Reyes was permitted to renew his lease at the Park for another one-year term, from June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015.
• In March 2015, Mr. Reyes was again reminded of the Policy. The Reyes family did not provide the requisite documents to satisfy the Policy.
• Later that same month, March 2015, defendants provided Mr. Reyes oral notice that he would be placed on a month-to-month lease and that his monthly rent would increase by $100 in part because an occupant in his residence could not comply with the Policy.
• On January 7, 2016, defendants sent plaintiff Moya Yrapura a letter, warning that his wife had not yet complied with the Policy. The January 7 letter advised that Mr. Moya Yrapura should submit his wife's occupant application and documentation by January 11, 2016.
• Because Mrs. Moya Yrapura is illegally present in the United States, she was unable to provide the documents required by the Policy.
• On January 18, 2016-13 days before Mr. Moya Yrapura's year-long lease was set to expire-defendants placed him on a month-to-month lease and increased his monthly rent by $100 in part because an occupant in his residence could not satisfy the Policy.
• In January 2016, defendants informed plaintiff Saravia Cruz that his wife would need to comply with the Policy in order for him to renew his lease.
• Because Mr. Saravia Cruz's wife, Ms. Amaya, is illegally present in the United States, she was unable to provide the ...

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