Discriminatory Housing Practice Based on Interference of Quiet Enjoyment of Residence
In Riedel v. Human Relations Comm'n, 703 A.2d 1072, 1074 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1997), the appellee filed a complaint with the local commission alleging that the appellant was harassing her and her children by making derogatory, obscene and hostile remarks to them. Id., 703 A.2d at 1073.
The local commission found that the appellant engaged in an "unlawful discriminatory housing practice" by interfering with the appellee's right to the quiet enjoyment of her apartment in violation of the local ordinance. Id.
The appellant appealed to the trial court, contending that his actions did not constitute a discriminatory housing practice under the ordinance, that the Reading Commission's findings were not supported by the evidence of record, that two of the local commission's members who signed the decision were actually not present at the hearing, and that the local commission's decision was unjustified. Riedel, 559 Pa. 34, 37, 739 A.2d 121, 123 (1999).
The trial court ultimately dismissed the appeal. Id.
On appeal to this Court, the appellant raised the same issues it did before the trial court.
This Court, however, did not address the issues raised by the appellant.
Instead, this Court sua sponte addressed a different issue: whether the local commission had the authority to enact and enforce a section of its ordinance when no corresponding provision, proscribing the same discriminatory conduct existed in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) Id.
This Court reversed the local commission and held that the City of Reading could not confer upon its human relations commission the authority to outlaw discriminatory housing practices based on the legal theory of interference of one's quiet enjoyment of one's residence, even if such practices are prohibited by the federal Fair Housing Act, because the local commission's authority cannot exceed that of the PHRC under the PHRA, and the PHRA does not prohibit such practices. Riedel, 703 A.2d at 1074.
The appellee filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal.
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine whether this Court "properly raised the issue of the local commission's authority to act in this case sua sponte and if so, whether this Court's determination that the commission had exceeded its authority by enacting and enforcing the ordinance was proper." Riedel, 559 Pa. at 38, 739 A.2d at 123.