Lawsuit alleges Brickell brokerage violated Fair Housing Act

320 85th Street in Miami Beach (Credit: Google Maps)
320 85th Street in Miami Beach (Credit: Google Maps)

A lawsuit alleges that a Brickell brokerage violated the Fair Housing Act by advertising a property that prevented applicants with a criminal background from renting.

The Social Justice Law Collective alleges that Brickell Brokers posted an advertisement in August 2019 for a rental property, saying only applicants who had “no criminal background” could rent it. The complaint alleges the policy violates the Fair Housing Act since it “has a disparate impact on Black people, and fails to serve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest of the housing provider,” according to the suit, filed last week in federal court in Miami.

According to the complaint, “Black people are arrested, convicted, and imprisoned at vastly disproportionate rates in Florida and the country as a whole. As such, [Brickell Brokers’] policy actually and predictably [results] in a disparate impact to Black people.”

Delroy Chambers Jr., who acts as a fair housing tester, filed the lawsuit. After seeing the advertisement, he texted Brickell Brokers for additional details about the “no criminal background” requirement on the advertisement, the lawsuit states. Brickell Brokers said that it would be conducting a background check, and if it locates any criminal background it would result in an automatic denial of any application for the rental, according to the complaint.

“They (brokers) are supposed to be trained on these sorts of civil rights protections,” said attorney Josh Glickman with the Social Justice Law Collective. “They are responsible for making sure they know these laws.”

Glickman sent The Real Deal a copy of the advertisement, which lists the property as a one-bedroom apartment at 320 85th Street in Miami Beach.

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According to the suit, “Mr. Chambers was insulted and emotionally distressed by being denied housing based on a blanket prohibition, which takes arrests into consideration, and by being subjected to such discriminatory policies.”

David Cevallos, CEO of Brickell Brokers, declined to comment citing the pending litigation.

The suit comes amid heightened scrutiny of discriminatory policies toward African Americans after the death of George Floyd, for which four police officers have been charged with murder. Last year, a three-year Newsday investigation found real estate agents sometimes steered minorities to certain neighborhoods and required they — but not white buyers — obtain pre-approvals for mortgages.

The suit seeks a permanent injunction against Brickell Brokers from engaging in discrimination based on race. It also seeks a permanent injunction to amend any and all policies, procedures and practices that discriminate against persons based on race.

Brickell Brokers was founded in 2002 with over 200 active agents, according to its website. Its office is at 1390 Brickell Avenue Suite # 420.

According to Cevallos’ LinkedIn page, the brokerage specializes in luxury apartments, condos, townhouses, lofts, houses and all residential transactions in the areas of Aventura, South Beach, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Aventura, Sunny Isles, Design District, Doral, South Miami, Brickell and downtown Miami.