Judge: NY Landlord's 'Reprehensible' Discrimination Merits Maximum Penalty

HUD recently announced that an Administrative Law Judge found that a Long Island landlord violated the Fair Housing Act when he refused to rent to a mother and her daughter because of the daughter’s cerebral palsy. The judge ordered the owner to pay $50,530 in damages to the family and a $20,111 civil penalty to the United States. The judge said the landlord’s behavior “merits imposition of a maximum civil penalty.”

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating because of disability. This includes refusing to rent because of a person’s disability. The landlord had agreed to rent to the woman and accepted her security deposit. But after learning about the daughter’s disability, the landlord delayed the move-in date three times, and in January 2018 told the woman he would not rent to her because of her daughter’s disability, according to the decision.

The complainant said that after the landlord told her he wouldn’t rent to her, even though the apartment didn’t require modifications to meet the family’s needs, he said, “Yeah, sucks right?” according to the judge’s decision. The judge called the latter comment “callous” and “indefensible.”

The judge found that the “outright refusal to rent is arguably the most egregious form of fair housing violation, as it completely denies an individual a valuable housing opportunity. To put the Complainant and her disabled child through two months of anticipation, excitement, and hope only then to take it away because of her child’s cerebral palsy is reprehensible.” The judge also noted that the landlord posted 31 Craigslist ads that either explicitly or implicitly discriminated against families with children, which is illegal under the Fair Housing Act [HUD v. Raimos, 21-JM-0160-FH-022, June 2022].