A.G. Schneiderman Announces Settlement In Housing Discrimination Case After Undercover Investigation
Landlord in Capital Region Treated Families With Children and African American Applicants Unequally
Agreement Requires Changes To Rental Policies To Ensure Equal Access to Housing, And Thousands Of Dollars In Penalties
Schneiderman: My Office Will Not Tolerate Housing Discrimination
ALBANY – Following an undercover housing discrimination investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office reached a settlement with the owner, management company, and rental agent of Shady Lane Apartments, a 444-unit residential apartment complex in Glenville, Schenectady County. The Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit in July 2010 charging the complex with discriminating against families with children and African-Americans in the renting of apartments.
Under the agreement with the Attorney General, Shady Lane Realty, Inc., the owner of Shady Lane Apartments, and Socha Management, Inc., its management company, are required to develop and implement non-discriminatory rental procedures and a non-discrimination policy, notify the public of its non-discrimination policy, require fair housing training for all rental agents, provide periodic reports to the Attorney General's Office, and pay a $22,500 penalty to the State of New York.
“Depriving people of housing because they have children or because of their race is not only illegal, it is unconscionable," said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Landlords who violate our state’s fair housing laws will be held accountable. My office will not tolerate people being told where they can and cannot live based on their familial status, race, or any other unlawful reasons, and will continue to work to ensure equal access to housing for all New Yorkers."
Today's settlement follows an undercover investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General in 2010 in which individuals posed as potential renters. The undercover operation was conducted under the Fair Housing Testing Program, which identifies unlawful housing discrimination based on, among other factors, race, national origin, disability or familial status.
The investigation revealed differences in treatment between the individuals with children and those without children. For example, families without children were shown available apartments while families with children were told there was a waiting list for apartments. Further, the evidence showed that the defendants maintained a long-standing marketing campaign advertising the appeal of the complex as "adult luxury living" and "mature living," discouraging families with children from applying. The fair housing tests also revealed, among other things, discrepancies in how African-American and white testers were treated when asking about available apartments.
Merrilee Witherell, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council of Central New York stated: "Even though the Fair Housing Act was passed more than 40 years ago, discrimination in housing persists. This case serves as notice that unlawful discrimination will not be tolerated and that violators will be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for fighting to ensure equal housing opportunities for all New Yorkers."
New Yorkers who believe they are being discriminated against by landlords or providers of housing-related services are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Office at (212) 416-8250 or visit: www.ag.ny.gov
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys Generals Sunita Kini-Tandon and Brooke P. Davis, under the supervision of Spencer Freedman, Chief Counsel for Civil Rights.