A recent study on housing discrimination in Falls Church found that some forms of discrimination are occurring in the city's rental housing market.

"It wasn't a blatant denial of housing, but there was different information given on the housing available," said Rachel S. Susz, a lawyer with Fair Housing Management Consultants who conducted the study.

Fifteen rental tests were administered in January at nine apartment complexes and six real estate companies in the city.

The study, which cost $1,000, was recommended by the Falls Church Housing Commission, an agency responsible for investigating and mediating fair housing complaints. "The city was concerned that even if there was just one case, that was just too much," Susz said.

Two teams were used to compare differences in information or services rendered by rental personnel. Each team consisted of a black person and white person whose employment and housing histories, educational backgrounds, ages and marital statuses matched as nearly as possible. The black testers were given an income level $1,000 higher than the white testers.

Of the nine apartment complexes tested, three were cited as exhibiting "subtle differences in treatment" between the testers.

At one location, the housing agent told the white tester that she would call when a unit was available. The white tester was put on a waiting list, given a rental application and told about credit check requirements. None of this information was given to the black tester.

The white tester also was instructed that the security deposit was due after the application was accepted. The black tester was told that the security deposit, equal to one month's rent, was required with the application.

In another test, a white tester was given more information on lease requirements and amenities than the black tester. The white tester was told about four available units while the black tester was told about two.

The black tester described having to "pull information about the apartments from the agent," the report said.

At another complex, a rental agent used some "inappropriate, rough language in describing the features of the apartment" to the black tester, the study said.

The white tester was told by the agent that "you are the kind of person we would like to have here," the report added. No such statement was made to the black tester.

Only one of the six real estate offices tested exhibited a "difference in treatment." When the black tester arrived for her appointment, the agent was out of the office. The agent phoned her that afternoon and told her that he would have information for her later that evening but never called back.

The city's Department of Housing and Human Services intends to contact apartment complexes and real estate offices about the results of the study.

The report did not evaluate discrimination in rental application processing.

The level of discrimination in Falls Church's residential rental housing market "is not as great as previous studies have purported to show," the report said. Other studies did not focus exclusively on sites within the city and used only a few rental locations.

"A comprehensive study gives a more accurate picture of racial discrimination in the {city's} housing market," said Brenda Creel, Falls Church's Housing and Human Services director.