NJ Landlord Accused of Refusing to Rent to Prospect with Section 8 Voucher

A New Jersey landlord recently agreed to pay $5,000 to settle allegations that he refused to rent to a prospect after she expressed her intention to pay her rent using federal Section 8 housing vouchers, according to an announcement by New Jersey Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy and the Division on Civil Rights.

The federal Section 8 housing voucher program provides financial assistance to eligible persons for the rental of privately owned housing. New Jersey fair housing law bans discrimination based on source of lawful income used for rental or mortgage payments, including Section 8 housing vouchers.

According to her complaint, the prospect saw an apartment rental advertised on Craigslist in February 2012, but when she called, a woman told her that the landlord didn’t accept Section 8 housing vouchers. When she called back a few days later, the prospect said she spoke with the landlord, who allegedly said that he used to accept Section 8 vouchers, but no longer did.

When later questioned by investigators, the landlord said he didn’t recall speaking with the woman, but he allegedly acknowledged that he didn’t accept Section 8 vouchers because of difficulties with a prior resident who paid with them.

Under the settlement, the landlord and his company will be subject to monitoring by the Division for two years to ensure compliance with fair housing laws. Among other things, the settlement requires them to keep detailed records of all applicants, including contact information, the type of unit they sought, whether they were offered an opportunity to rent, and the reason for any applicant rejection. In addition, the landlord, who is an attorney, agreed to attend continuing legal education on the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, including a module on fair housing laws. Under the agreement, failure to comply with any aspect of the settlement will result in reinstatement of a $5,000 civil penalty that was suspended.

“This settlement represents a fair resolution to a troubling matter,” Lougy said in a statement. “The search for safe, affordable housing that meets all of one’s daily needs can be difficult enough without the added obstacle of unlawful discrimination. Hopefully, this case will serve as a message to other landlords that it’s illegal to refuse public housing assistance vouchers, and that we will hold accountable any landlord who engages in such conduct.”

Source: New Jersey Attorney General’s Office