Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lawsuit Settlement To Cost Landlord $22.5K Over Alleged Discrimination Against Potential Tenant Who Intended To Use Section 8 Subsidy For Bulk Of Rent

From the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General:

  • The Division on Civil Rights announced [] that a Middlesex County apartment complex has agreed to pay a total of $22,500 to resolve allegations it discriminated against a potential tenant who intended to pay the bulk of his monthly rent with federal Section 8 housing assistance.

    The Glenwood Apartments and Country Club, owned by the Brunetti Organization and located in Old Bridge, has agreed to pay the mother of the late Lyle Rosen $15,000 to settle Rosen’s discrimination Complaint. The Complaint was rooted in Rosen’s attempt to lease an apartment and pay about 70 percent of his rent using Section 8 housing vouchers. Lyle Rosen, of Old Bridge, has since passed away, and his mother Irene Rosen is the administratrix of his estate.

    In addition to paying $15,000 to Irene Rosen, Glenwood also has agreed to pay the State $7,500. Along with the monetary terms of settlement, Glenwood has agreed to require training in the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) for any rental or management company it employs to screen applicants. Glenwood also must keep detailed records of rental applications and rental inquiries for three years -- including an explanation for any applicant’s rejection -- and make those records available to the Division on Civil Rights.

    “The importance of this settlement goes beyond the dollars because of the issue involved,” said Division on Civil Rights Director Craig Sashihara. “First and foremost, it's illegal for any landlord to refuse to rent to someone simply because he or she is receiving a rent subsidy. Landlords want assurance that prospective tenants will have sufficient funds to make rent, and that’s perfectly understandable. But federal rent subsidies are like guaranteed payments – it's money sent directly from the federal government to the landlord. So a landlord can't ignore those funds when calculating whether a potential tenant has enough money to pay the rent.”

    Lyle Rosen filed a Complaint with the Division on Civil Rights after he applied to rent an apartment at Glenwood in October 2005 and was rejected within days of applying.

    The Division issued a Finding of Probable Cause against Glenwood in March 2007. The Finding meant that DCR had determined, in effect, that Glenwood’s denial of Rosen on the basis of its $40,000-a-year annual income requirement was likely discriminatory, because Section 8 housing vouchers guaranteed payment of most of Rosen’s rent, and he’d shown sufficient assets to pay the rest.

    Lyle Rosen passed away in July 2007. In August 2009, an Administrative Law Judge issued an Order allowing his Complaint to be amended to include his mother, Irene, as a Complainant.

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