Lawsuit accuses Lehman Properties of posting “No felonies” rental ad

HUD issued guidance in 2016 saying landlords could be breaking the law if they refuse to rent to people with criminal records

Miami /
Apr.April 08, 2019 02:30 PM

Fort Lauderdale (Credit: iStock)

A new lawsuit accuses Lehman Properties of posting an ad for apartments in Broward County that said “No felonies.”

The lawsuit was filed last week in Fort Lauderdale district court by “fair housing tester” Delroy Chambers, who is represented by the Dunedin, Florida-based law firm Social Justice Law Collective.

According to the lawsuit, Chambers, who is black, was angered by the ad for the undisclosed property.

“As a black person who has been the subject of discrimination throughout his life, Mr. Chambers is particularly sensitive to discriminatory practices,” the lawsuit states. “Mr. Chambers was insulted and emotionally distressed by being denied housing based on the Defendant’s blanket prohibition.”

Joseph Lehman, owner of Miami-based Lehman Properties, said he was not aware of the ad and would not have approved it. He said the company hadn’t been officially served with the suit.
“I’m not aware of us not allowing people with any background issue. We do try to keep our company safe,” Lehman said, adding that some residents currently living at the company’s properties have felonies and criminal backgrounds.
“But we do have a standard protocol that if you have a vigorous record of homicide, murder or rape, we would typically deny that person,” Lehman said. “My first priority is to keep my staff safe and our best interest of our tenants.”

The suit says the ad made it clear that “rental of the home is subject to a blanket prohibition regarding an applicant’s felony criminal history, which is unlawful under the Fair Housing Act, as it has a disparate impact on Black people, and fails to serve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest.”

The suit said Chambers posed as a potential renter responding to the ad, but was told the apartment was no longer available and was directed to another unit. He asked an employee if having a felony would be an immediate bar to renting the property and was told yes, it would, according to the suit.

The suit seeks a permanent injunction against discrimination based on race, an unspecified money damage award and attorney’s costs and fees.

The Housing and Urban Development Administration issued guidance in 2016 saying landlords could be breaking the law if they refuse to rent to people with criminal records because such a policy would likely have a disproportionate impact on African-American and Hispanic applicants.

Lehman is the owner of several multifamily projects in Miami-Dade, including including a 112-unit property at 611 Northwest 177 Street.

Chambers has filed similar lawsuits in Central Florida. He filed another housing discrimination lawsuit in St. Lucie County in January against the Villages of Lake Lucie Homeowners’ Association, accusing it of running an ad that said: “If you have any felonies at all they will not approve your application so please don’t waste our time.” According to court records, that case was settled quickly.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Alex Rodriguez and Constantine Scurtis at far right (Getty)
A-Rod gets 13 lawsuits dismissed that were filed by ex-brother-in-law over real estate empire
A-Rod gets 13 lawsuits dismissed that were filed by ex-brother-in-law over real estate empire
Foreclosure lawsuit targets DoubleTree hotel near Miami International Airport
Foreclosure lawsuit targets DoubleTree hotel near Miami International Airport
Foreclosure lawsuit targets DoubleTree hotel near Miami International Airport
Harvey Hernandez and a rendering of his Brickell project
Harvey Hernandez plans three-tower project on riverfront Brickell site
Harvey Hernandez plans three-tower project on riverfront Brickell site
Louis McMillian of Global International Realty and real estate investor Thomas Conway, president of Miami-based Conway CRE (Global International Realty, LinkedIn via Conway)
Jumping the gun? Miami brokerage sues developer for commission on future Bellsouth land deal
Jumping the gun? Miami brokerage sues developer for commission on future Bellsouth land deal
AIMCO founder Terry Considine and a rendering of the Grand Flamingo tower
Miami Beach board rejects Aimco’s proposal for Grand Flamingo tower
Miami Beach board rejects Aimco’s proposal for Grand Flamingo tower
Miami allegedly granted improper height increase for Design District hotel project: lawsuit
Miami allegedly granted improper height increase for Design District hotel project: lawsuit
Miami allegedly granted improper height increase for Design District hotel project: lawsuit
Infinity project (Kobi Karp)
GPI Real Estate wins $6M settlement over failed Sunny Isles Beach project
GPI Real Estate wins $6M settlement over failed Sunny Isles Beach project
 Shoma Group CEO Masoud Shojaee and his company's headquarters at 201 Sevilla Avenue in Coral Gables (Shoma, Google Maps)
Shoma Group HQ faces foreclosure over allegedly unauthorized construction: lawsuit
Shoma Group HQ faces foreclosure over allegedly unauthorized construction: lawsuit
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...