Real estate industry decries anti-Semitic remarks recorded at DOB

311 has pledged to retrain the agent who recorded the offensive complaint

TRD New York /
Dec.December 09, 2019 04:00 PM
(Credit: iStock)

(Credit: iStock)

Landlords are upset over a Department of Buildings complaint containing anti-Semitic language that was registered on the agency’s website last Friday.

A screenshot of the complaint, which has since been modified, was circulating in a group chat of over 100 landlords, according to sources.

The language in the complaint included references to a Jewish landlord who, according to the complainant, was “too cheap” to make necessary repairs. The comment was entered as-is into the city agency’s database. According to the DOB, anti-Semitic remarks in complaints are not new — and this example is tame compared to some.

Zach Hoffman, a real estate salesperson who reported the anti-Semitic complaint to The Real Deal, said that the remarks are not an isolated incident and that he has seen an uptick of anti-Semitic comments recorded in DOB complaints in recent years.

“Anti-Semitism is nothing new in the city,” Hoffman said. “But there are some landlords, especially the larger ones, who are Jewish, so people associate landlords with Jews.”

Intake of complaints is handled via 311. A complainant can enter concerns directly into the 311 website, or they can be transcribed by a 311 employee, according to the Department of Buildings. That information is passed onto the DOB and shows up on the agency’s website, according to 311.

In response to outcry over the complaint entered on Friday, 311 said it will retrain the agent, and edited the complaint to “not repeat any offensive language to the public.”

“311 takes this incident seriously and will not tolerate the use of language or terms that offend, denigrate or exclude different categories of people under any circumstances,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

The original complaint (Credit: Department of Buildings)

Above, the original complaint (Credit: Department of Buildings)

The updated complaint (Credit: Department of Buildings)

The edited complaint (Credit: Department of Buildings)


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