Greenvale real estate firm to pay $65K for prejudiced practices: AG

Greenvale real estate firm to pay $65K for prejudiced practices: AG
Laffey Real Estate in Greenvale. According to state Attorney General Letitia James, the firm has been ordered to pay more than $65,000 to remedy discriminatory practices and conduct fair housing trainings. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

Greenvale-based Laffey Real Estate has been mandated to pay $65,000 to correct discriminatory practices and carry out fair housing trainings, state Attorney General Letitia James announced.

In 2019, the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of State launched investigations into Keller Williams Greater Nassau (Garden City), Keller Williams Realty Elite (Massapequa) and Laffey Real Estate (Greenvale).

The examinations discovered realtors connected to these firms discouraged people of color from purchasing homes in white neighborhoods. They also applied different standards to them than to white homeowners and acted in other prejudiced ways.

As part of the settlement, Laffey Real Estate must pay the state $30,000 for penalties and costs of investigation and Suffolk County $35,000 to undergo fair housing tests. They must also create an online form for potential buyers and sellers to report suspected prejudice and hold fair housing trainings for their agents quarterly.

James and Gov. Kathy Hochul criticized them and two other firms’ behavior in a press release shared on Tuesday. They both said that New York will not accept discrimination.

The release included two paired tests conducted on Laffey Real Estate agents in their Huntington and Great Neck offices. During both cases, they found that Laffey Real Estate’s agents discriminated against homebuyers based on race, color and national origin, in breach of the Fair Housing Act.

In Huntington, Laffey Real Estate was found to have required a potential Black homeowner to get a preapproval letter from a mortgage lender before being shown a home. They did not hold a white homebuyer to the same standard.

A Laffey Real Estate representative in Great Neck advised a Hispanic potential homeowner to narrow his search to an area he could afford despite not knowing his financial position.

The release says the same agent did not lecture a white homebuyer about affordability. Instead, he directed the white homebuyer to less diverse communities, saying, “Do you want your kids to be in school with kids that they relate to?”

James said that it is unacceptable to face discrimination when seeking housing.

“These investigations have uncovered a pervasive culture of allowing unlawful discrimination and violations of every New Yorker’s right to fair housing,” she said. “These settlements should send a clear message: if you discriminate and deny New Yorkers their basic right to housing, we will take action.”

She commended Hochul and her team for their help in addressing these practices.

Hochul said these actions deliver a “forceful message.”

“New York state has zero tolerance for discrimination,” she said. “Here in New York, we firmly believe that housing is a human right and I thank Attorney General James and Secretary of State Rodriguez for their work to enforce our laws and protect that right for all New Yorkers.”

Keller Williams Greater Nassau and Keller Williams Realty Elite must also pay $25,000 to Suffolk County to support the enforcement and compliance with fair housing laws. The two must additionally spend up to $25,000 on fair housing training and courses.

Several Department of State investigations into Laffey Real Estate and its agents are still ongoing.

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