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D.C. Landlords To Pay $10M, Cease Operations In Historic Voucher Discrimination Settlement

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine at a 2017 press conference.

A trio of related D.C. real estate firms will be required to pay $10M in what Attorney General Karl Racine said is the largest penalty in a housing discrimination case in U.S. history. 

Racine's office announced the $10M settlement Thursday with three firms — Daro Management Services, Daro Realty and Infinity Real Estate — that will also permanently ban the companies and their principals from managing residential real estate in D.C. 

Daro Management operates and leases about 1,200 apartments across 15 Northwest D.C. buildings, the majority of which are owned by Daro Realty. New York-based Infinity oversees the practices of the other two entities, and it manages thousands of urban apartments, according to the Office of the Attorney General. 

OAG sued the entities and several of their executives in 2020 for violations of civil rights and consumer protection laws. The lawsuit claimed they discriminated against renters who receive federal Section 8 housing vouchers and other forms of rental assistance and made it more difficult for them to rent apartments.

An email from one of the defendants released by OAG included the line: "No voucher/sec-8 – find ways to reject."

The settlement requires Daro to dissolve the property management arm of its business and transfer management of all the properties it owns to a third-party company within 18 months. It permanently bars all defendants from owning any interest in a property management company in the District. Additionally, Daro Management President and principal broker Carissa Barry must forfeit her real estate license for 15 years. 

Around 11,500 low-income households in D.C. use Section 8 vouchers, according to OAG, which said 95% of the city's voucher holders are Black and 79% of households using vouchers are headed by women. 

“This landmark resolution is a major victory for D.C. residents," Racine said in a release. "This case should send a strong message that if you break the law and discriminate against renters who use housing subsidies, you will face serious consequences."