The Real Deal New York

Parkoff Organization is discriminating against black renters: suit

Fair Housing Justice Center says it sent testers to 2828 Kings Highway
By Eddie Small | October 16, 2017 04:45PM

Adam Parkoff and 2828 Kings Highway

The Parkoff Organization has been discriminating against black renters at one of its buildings in Midwood, a new lawsuit claims.

The suit, which the Fair Housing Justice Center filed in federal court on Monday, singles out the company for alleged misdeeds at 2828 Kings Highway. The nonprofit says it sent black and white testers to the 48-unit building throughout 2016, and in multiple instances, black testers were told nothing was available and dismissed, while white testers were welcomed inside to see apartments.

The complaint outlines multiple examples of this alleged behavior, describing how Parkoff and the building superintendent were very helpful to white testers who came looking for apartments. The super told white testers about tenants who were planning to break their leases and even described another building the landlord owned on Ocean Parkway as “super, super Jewish,” the suit alleges.

However, when black testers showed up, the superintendent was much cagier about saying whether apartments were available, cutting off one tester who was asking about an apartment by repeatedly saying “nope” and then telling him about a building across the street being available on Zillow, the suit says.

In May, the FHJC expanded its investigation to Parkoff’s building at 401 Schenectady Avenue, where a tester was allegedly turned down after disclosing that she relied on federal assistance to pay her rent. The group says its investigation also revealed that, at both the Kings Highway and Schenectady Avenue buildings, Parkoff required families with children younger than seven to get blood tests before moving in to prove that they do not have problems with lead.

“Such requirements are not just invasive and unnecessary, but also unquestionably discriminatory and prohibited,” the suit reads.

The Parkoff Organization, led by Adam and Richard Parkoff, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The landlord has been the target of multiple tenant lawsuits in recent years. In June, a group of tenants sued the company for allegedly overcharging them on rent and illegally deregulating units in Manhattan and the Bronx. Last September, a group of tenants at 3300 Netherland Avenue in the Bronx sued Parkoff, claiming the landlord illegally deregulated units.

The company was also sued more than 25 years ago for not letting Hispanics and blacks rent in eight of the company’s buildings, according to the FHJC complaint, which states that the company “plainly did not learn its lesson” from that case.

“Here we are 25 years later, and the same thing seems to be happening,” said Mariann Meier Wang, attorney for the plaintiffs. “It’s systemic, and over and over again, the African-Americans are being told higher rents or that there are no openings when there are.”

(To view more properties owned by the Parkoff Organization, click here)