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Monday, February 24, 2020

New York AG reaches settlements with real estate brokers, landlords

By Bryan Cohen | Aug 14, 2014

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NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced agreements on Wednesday with three real estate brokerage firms and two landlords to ensure tenants are not denied their right to use government assistance.

New York City-based brokerage firms Absolute Properties, Brownstone Real Estate and Destination Real Estate allegedly violated regulations that prohibit discrimination based on source of income. Brokers at the firms allegedly told prospective renters that landlords would not accept subsidies as payment for rent.

Buffalo landlords Patrick Guidice and Francis Pleto allegedly discriminated against voucher holders, in violation of regulations prohibiting discrimination.

Both New York City and Buffalo regulations prohibit discrimination in housing on the basis of legal sources of income, which include government vouchers.

“Discrimination comes in many forms, but denying a home to someone because they receive government assistance is one of the most insidious, having a disproportionate effect on black and Hispanic individuals," Schneiderman said. "No one should be turned away from an apartment based on a lawful income source, and we will continue to fight to ensure that everyone is treated equally under the law, regardless of race, ethnicity, or income. Today’s settlements will ensure that many more aspiring homeowners – from Buffalo to New York City – will have a fair shot at a home and that their rights will be protected.”

Under the terms of the settlements, the brokerage firms and landlords must change their policies to provide equal access to housing opportunities to all rental applicants, provide training for employees and inform landlords that refuse to accept government vouchers of their requirements under the law.

Brownstone Real Estate agreed to pay $18,000 to resolve the allegations, while Absolute Properties agreed to pay $15,000 and Destination agreed to pay $6,000. Guidice and Pleto agreed to pay penalties of $5,000 each.

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