Articles Posted in Housing Discrimination

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My building’s super keeps sexually harassing me! What can I do?

Sexual.Harassment.Posterboard.jpgWhen most people think of “sexual harassment”, they tend to think of it as happening in the workplace. While workplace sexual harassment is an issue (see our previous posts here, sexual harassment in housing is every bit as real and problematic. It can cause great stress for residents, and the consequences for all involved can be great.

It is important to know what your rights are, what sexual harassment means, and what steps you can take. Our Award Winning New York Fair Housing Attorney generally discusses a housing case that resulted in the largest recovery ever in a sexual harassment suit brought by the Federal government under the Fair Housing Act.

United States of America et al. v. William Barnason et al.

In its lawsuit against the landlord, superintendent, and building manager of several New York City apartment buildings, the Federal government alleged that the defendants violated the Federal Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of sex and subjecting numerous tenants to severe, unwelcome, or pervasive sexual harassment.

Building owner Stanley Katz had hired Baranson, a Level 3 registered sex offender, as the superintendent for the properties in question. Between 2004 and 2010, multiple female tenants complained to Katz about Baranson, complaining that he repeatedly attempted to enter their apartments while inebriated and demanded sex; groped and fondled them; subjected them to unwanted verbal sexual advances; demanded sexual favors in return for tangible housing benefits and rent reductions; and took adverse action against any tenant that refused his demands.
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Thumbnail image for Housing.Law.jpgFinding a new home, whether buying or renting, is never easy. It is much harder when others, like real estate brokers, might decide on their own what’s appropriate for you. And when they make that decision based on a protected characteristic, like familial status, that act can be illegal discrimination under federal, state, and local laws. Steering is unlawful – brokers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals based on race and other protected categories including familial status. If you believe that you were denied a housing opportunity or treated differently because of your race, familial status or other protected category, call (800) 893-9645 for a confidential consultation to learn your rights.

Our Award-Winning New York Fair Housing Lawyer discusses a recent agreement between a real estate company, two property owners (“Respondents”) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), settling accusations that Delap Realty, LLC (“Delap”) and others violated federal hair housing laws by discouraging families with children from renting certain apartments due to concerns about lead paint. This case is discussed generally below.

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Housing.Law.jpgOur New York Fair Housing Attorney counsels clients on potential sticky situations where a tenant in a co-op, condo or apartment building requests a reasonable accommodation or modification due to the tenant’s disability. This can be a difficult process for the tenant/unit owner and the building especially in cases involving therapy dogs/service animals and the payment of a modification or accommodation. It is important get experienced counsel from the outset so you are aware of your rights and obligations. This blog is a continuation of yesterday’s post – part one can be found here. Today, we are going to discuss the concepts of an accommodation and modification requests.

What’s the difference between an accommodation and a modification?

An accommodation is an exception, change, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice of the housing provider. For example, in a building that does not allow any animals, allowing a service animal due to a disability may constitute a reasonable accommodation. If there are any costs associated with providing any accommodations, the cost would be to the housing provider.

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Wheelchair.Disability.Accommodation.Ramp.Dollar.Photo.Club.12.10.15.jpgWhen a tenant, condominium owner, or cooperative shareholder makes a request for an accommodation or modification due to a disability, what responsibilities and rights do a landlord, condominium or cooperative board have? Their response can make all the difference between properly addressing the request and landing in a legal minefield that can cost significant energy and resources, including legal fees and potential fines and penalties.

Our Award-Winning Fair Housing Attorney has not only counseled and advised a wide array of clients on fair housing requirements, but has also lectured on the topic and co-authored fair housing regulations.

Fair Housing Laws in General
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On June 14, 2010, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed legislation that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of “source of income” under Westchester County’s Fair Housing Law. Westchester County joins other jurisdictions including New York City, New Jersey, and Nassau County that also prohibit discrimination basedThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpg on an individual’s “Source of Income.” Source of Income would include any legal, verifiable income derived from social security, or any form of federal, state or local public assistance or housing assistance, including the federal housing subsidy known as “Section 8” but it specifically excludes alimony, court ordered payments, gifts and inheritances. For years, section 8 voucher holders, including senior citizens and members of the disabled community, were unable to find suitable housing. This is a victory for advocates fighting against housing discrimination. Similar to discrimination in the employment context, housing discrimination is simply wrong. Our discrimination attorneys have protected victims of employment and housing matters and assisted individuals in obtaining reasonable accommodations.

That being said, the new law, provided it is signed by Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino, does not apply to every landlord. The law specifically exempts cooperative apartments, condominiums and small buildings with four or fewer apartments. A landlord can still use his or her reasonable business judgment to reject a tenant who receives Section 8 or other government assistance provided that the landlord’s denial is based on other factors (example: credit history and criminal background) and not just the fact that the prospective tenant receives governmental assistance. The law will expire in five years unless further action is taken by the legislators.
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