Opening Acts: July 10, 2019

Eastchester Landlord Settles Lawsuit Alleging Racial Discrimination

AGREEMENT ENSURES FUTURE COMPLIANCE WITH FAIR HOUSING LAWS

Today, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) announced a settlement that resolves a fair housing lawsuit filed against Westchester landlord New Property Associates LLC, management company Active Management Inc., and a building superintendent. The federal lawsuit, filed in September 2018 by the FHJC and three African American testers, alleged that the defendants racially discriminated against African American prospective renters in violation of federal and state fair housing laws.

The lawsuit was filed after a testing investigation conducted by the FHJC uncovered evidence of racial discrimination at a 53-unit apartment building located in the predominantly white Town of Eastchester in Westchester County. Specifically, African American testers were provided untruthful information about the availability of apartments while white testers were told about and shown available apartments, provided rental applications, and encouraged to apply.

In the settlement, the building superintendent acknowledged that, on multiple occasions, he provided untruthful information and different treatment to the African American testers when compared to the information and service he provided to the white testers.

Though the defendants deny any wrongdoing, the three-year agreement requires them to comply with fair housing laws and implement activities that will ensure future compliance including, but not limited to:

  • Adopting an equal housing opportunity policy, with all principals, employees and agents signing acknowledgement of receipt and reading of the policy;
  • Including fair housing logos and language in all rental ads and application forms, the posting of the HUD fair housing poster in offices, and placing a sign at the property including contact info for any rental inquiries;
  • Using a licensed real estate broker for advertising online, showing apartments, and providing applications; and a single standardized application form for all rental applicants;
  • Maintaining certain rental records for inspection by the FHJC for the duration of the agreement; and
  • Fair housing training for employees, agents, and owners directly involved in the renting and/or managing of apartments.

The agreement, so ordered by the Hon. Cathy J. Seibel on July 9, 2019, also includes a total monetary recovery for the plaintiffs of $182,500.

FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg stated, “We are pleased that this settlement will ensure that more housing is open and available on an equal basis to African American renters. But, sadly, there are thousands of landlords, property managers, and real estate agents throughout our region who persist in excluding, disqualifying, or marginalizing people based on race.  This is precisely the type of conduct that was outlawed by the passage of fair housing laws more than fifty years ago.”  Freiberg added, “Unless more resources are devoted to vigorously enforcing fair housing laws, much of this illegal racial discrimination will go undetected and unchallenged and residential segregation will remain an indelible stain on the fabric of our metropolitan region.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Diane L. Houk of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, LLP.

The mission of the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster more open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws in the New York City region.