Apartments Ask About Tattoos, But Shy Away from Immigration

Complexes file suit to block Farmers Branch housing ordinance

Farmers Branch leaders say they want to know why three apartment complexes that ask detailed questions about prospective tenants are opposed to an ordinance requiring them to ask about immigration status.

Three apartment complexes have filed a federal suit against the city challenging an ordinance that prevents illegal immigrants from renting housing in the city, blocking its enforcement.

Management at one complex said they believe potential renters have enough paperwork without adding another paper asking for proof of legal status and that it should be illegal to ask about immigration status.

But city leaders said the same apartment complexes already ask renters to provide "much more detailed and intrusive information" such as tattoos.

"Their managers are instructed to screen for a variety of things like body piercings and capped teeth and cars that don't meet their appearance standards," city attorney Michael Jung said.

But William Brewer, an attorney representing the apartment complexes, said the city's ordinance is unconstitutional. 

"The rental standards utilized by our clients are unrelated to the broader more important issue -- the immigration ordinances passed by the Farmers Branch City Council are unconstitutional," he said in a statement.
Some tenants said they worried their apartment management overstepped its bounds.

"I'm quite shocked they're even doing this, and I hope they're not spending my rental money to pursue this," resident Gordon Stevenson said.

Jung said Farmers Branch will file papers in December asking a judge to uphold the ordinance. He said the city expects the apartments' attorney to file papers asking for the opposite.

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