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Opening Acts: October 7, 2020

Settlement Reached in Co-op Discrimination Case

CO-OP SHAREHOLDER ALLEGED APPLICANTS TO SUBLET HIS APARTMENT FACED DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RACE AND NATIONAL ORIGIN

On September 24, the New York State Division on Human Rights (NYSDHR) approved a conciliation agreement resolving a housing discrimination complaint filed by an apartment owner and shareholder at a 20-unit housing cooperative located in the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan. 

In 2019, the shareholder who had been attempting to sublease his apartment filed a housing discrimination complaint with the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC).  On October 1, 2019, the shareholder filed an administrative complaint with NYSDHR alleging that respondents, Refco Management Co., Inc., 448 E. 84th Street Owners Corp, and a member of the co-op board, Janet Lytle, discriminated against him based on the race and national origin of applicants to sublet his apartment. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the respondents refused to approve several qualified applicants who were Pakistani, Indian, and Vietnamese. After the shareholder complained to respondents, they conditioned approval of a subletter’s application on prior approval of visits from her relatives and imposed retaliatory fines on the shareholder.     

The respondents agreed to pay the complainant $25,000 and to withdraw all fines, totaling $2,000.  In addition, the respondents agreed to adopt a general fair housing policy and modify their application process for sub-tenants, guarantors, and visitors to include:

  • Standardized procedures for obtaining applicant references;
  • No requests for applications to verify citizenship, alienage status or term/length of lawful residency;
  • No requirement to register visitors in advance of a visit;
  • Visitors staying 10 or more consecutive days may be asked to provide photo ID and sign house rules only, but will not be asked to complete an application.

The complainant was represented by Diane L. Houk of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel 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 open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws in the New York City region.

FHJC’s assistance to the plaintiff in this case was supported with funding from a Private Enforcement Initiative (PEI) grant received from the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).