Nonprofit housing watchdog group files lawsuits against local real estate firms, brokers

Nonprofit housing watchdog group files lawsuits against local real estate firms, brokers
The Nassau County Legislative building. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

The Housing Rights Initiative filed suit last week against local real estate brokers and companies, charging them with discriminatory practices.

The Housing Rights Initiative, a nonprofit housing watchdog group, lists 11 defendants in the lawsuit and cites an undercover investigation they launched that revealed a refusal of renting apartments in Nassau to those who would pay with government vouchers, according to court documents.

Potential tenants sought to rent properties in Port Washington, Great Neck, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Westbury, Glen Cove and Hempstead, among other areas.

Those listed include Baxter Real Estate, Rowan Realty, 137 Post Avenue LLC, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Laffey International Realty, Laffey Real Estate LLC, Coldwell Banker American Homes, DeSimone Real Estate, Kaya Homes, Jenny Medina, Kings Homes & Associates and Anderson Minaya.

The investigation, which was conducted in Nassau from 2020-2022, revealed a “rampant source of income discrimination by brokers and landlords,” according to the lawsuit. The complaint was filed by attorneys from Handley Farah & Anderson along with Hempstead attorney Frederick Brewington.

“In many instances, [the Housing Rights Initiative’s] investigation revealed a policy or practice of refusing to accept vouchers, which prompted HRI to take steps to address such violations of the law,” according to the complaint.

Efforts to reach those represented in the complaint for comment were unavailing.

The federal Housing Choice Voucher Program, according to the lawsuit, currently aids more than 2 million American families and 9,000 Nassau residents find affordable housing. Those who receive a voucher have 120 days to find an apartment, according to the lawsuit.

Real estate agents for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Laffey International allegedly told prospective renters that landlords would not accept housing vouchers as payment, according to the lawsuit.

A representative from the company told Newsday they were not aware of the lawsuit last week.

The lawsuit seeks a judgment for the defendants to stop refusing rent to those who possess vouchers and monetary damages, according to the court documents.

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