AUGUSTA — A human rights panel sided Monday with two tenants who said they were victims of unlawful discrimination in housing because of their sexual orientation.

By a 3-0 vote, the Maine Human Rights Commission concluded there were reasonable grounds to believe that Suzanne Rojas, a landlord from Newport, discriminated against Michael Fournier and Michael Sargent of Waterville. Fournier, who died on Oct. 27, 2010, and Sargent are described as a gay couple in an investigator’s report.

Fournier and Sargent rented an apartment in Dexter from Rojas from Aug. 5, 2009, to Aug. 1, 2010. They said that when they gave notice they were moving out, Rojas sent them a letter saying they would be charged $50 a day if they remained after Aug. 1. They claimed that a heterosexual couple indicated their intent to leave around the same time and were told to take their time finding other housing.

Fournier and Sargent also told the commission investigators that they were treated differently from other tenants.

Rojas denied the charge of discrimination and said “she treats every tenant on a case-by-case basis,” according to the investigator’s report.

The dispute now moves to a conciliation phase.

Commission findings are not law, but may become grounds for lawsuits.