A dozen Nassau County actual property corporations and brokers face allegations they refused to lease residences to potential tenants who sought to pay with authorities housing vouchers, in response to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Nassau County Supreme Court docket by the Manhattan-based nonprofit Housing Rights Initiative.
The lawsuit relies upon an undercover investigation carried out by HRI, by which investigators referred to as actual property brokers and landlords to inquire about residence listings posted on-line and requested if they’d settle for housing vouchers. One of many defendants is Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Laffey Worldwide Realty, a Williston Park-based franchisee of Warren Buffett’s conglomerate.
The opposite defendants are Baxter Actual Property; Rowan Realty; 137 Put up Avenue LLC; DeSimone Actual Property; Kaya Houses; Laffey Actual Property LLC; Coldwell Banker American Houses; Jenny Medina; Kings Houses & Associates; Anderson Minaya; and Houses by Mara.
Newsday is trying to achieve the defendants for remark.
The lawsuit describes calls made by investigators from 2020 to 2022, by which representatives for actual property brokerages or landlords instructed the callers a landlord wouldn’t settle for a housing voucher as a type of fee.
“The refusals to just accept vouchers have been pervasive and egregious, starting from flat-out refusals to insinuations in regards to the worthiness of voucher holders as tenants,” attorneys for HRI wrote within the criticism.
Since 2007, Nassau County legislation has prohibited discrimination primarily based on the supply of an individual’s revenue. New York state added source-of-income protections in 2019.
“This lawsuit in opposition to a dozen actual property corporations would not simply expose housing discrimination in Lengthy Island, however an absence of housing enforcement in New York State,” Aaron Carr, founder and govt director of Housing Rights Initiative, mentioned in a press release.
Carr mentioned the New York Division of State, which licenses actual property brokers, “ought to cope with the systematic challenge of housing discrimination by systematically revoking the brokers’ licenses of those that have interaction in it.”
In two separate calls in 2020 and 2022, the lawsuit alleges a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Laffey Worldwide Realty agent instructed a potential renter the owner they have been representing wouldn’t settle for a housing voucher as fee. An individual who answered the agency’s workplace Thursday afternoon mentioned he was not conscious of the lawsuit.
Omar Baxter, the company dealer at Baxter Actual Property in Rosedale, mentioned Newsday’s name was the primary he had heard in regards to the allegations, and he was not accustomed to the August 2020 rental itemizing in Valley Stream described within the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges a consultant of Baxter instructed a tester, “No, she doesn’t settle for packages,” when requested whether or not the referred to as might use a housing voucher to pay lease.
“I’ve no data of this,” Baxter mentioned. “That has by no means been a observe of Baxter Actual Property.”
The Housing Alternative Voucher Program is federally funded, and in Nassau County it’s administered by the Nassau County Workplace of Housing.
Housing Rights Initiative mentioned the properties it inquired about have been positioned in Glen Cove, Valley Stream, Port Washington, Westbury, Nice Neck, Island Park, Hewlett, Farmingdale, Lynbrook, Hempstead, New Hyde Park, Mineola and Woodbury. It sought models with rents that have been beneath the voucher program’s most threshold.
In February, a federal decide allowed an HRI lawsuit in opposition to 77 landlords and actual property companies in New York Metropolis to maneuver ahead over related claims that they wouldn’t lease to potential tenants trying to make use of housing vouchers, Gothamist reported.
HRI’s lawsuit seeks a judgment in opposition to the defendants for source-of-income discrimination, an order for the defendants to cease refusing to lease to voucher holders in addition to financial damages, attorneys’ charges, and punitive damages.
Housing Rights Initiative is represented by attorneys Matthew Ok. Handley and Martha E. Guarnieri of Handley Farah & Anderson in addition to Hempstead lawyer Frederick Ok. Brewington.