Lawsuit alleges Zara Realty threatened undocumented tenants with Feds

Landlord allegedly posted DHS signs, requested passports

Zara Realty's headquarters in Jamaica, Queens
Zara Realty's headquarters in Jamaica, Queens

Zara Realty [TRDataCustom] allegedly posted signs advertising a federal immigration tip line in its Queens apartment buildings and asked stabilized tenants about their immigration status, according to a new tenant harassment lawsuit filed against the landlord.

“Zara finds every way possible through legal and extralegal means to harass tenants and extract additional fees and costs from tenants,” George Gardner, the lawyer representing the tenants, told the New York Daily News. “It becomes an overwhelming burden for many of the tenants, particularly those who are low-income and also immigrants.

The signs, which advertise a Department of Homeland Security tip line to report undocumented immigrants, has unsettled Bangladeshi tenants at a Jamaica apartment building. “It’s to scare the people,” one tenant told the Daily News.

Elena Tzul, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, told the Daily News that Zara requested her passport when she renewed her lease, which violates state law. “I’m scared because I have no papers,” she said. “I think that they can kick us out and deport me.”

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Tenants have sued Zara, which manages around 40 buildings in Jamaica, twice before. The most recent suit was settled in 2014.

In a statement, the company denied the accusations. “We are a family of immigrants ourselves and remain deeply involved in the community where we invest, create jobs and facilitate housing and also work,” a spokesperson said. “Suggestions of immigrant bias by third-party professional tenant agitators is thoroughly foolish and preposterous.”

Last year, Zara bought a six-building Jamaica portfolio and an apartment building in Elmhurst[NYDN]Konrad Putzier

(To view more properties owned by Zara Realty, click here)