Long Island landlord settles discrimination case for $18K 

Fair housing nonprofit tested company after complaint over unemployment benefits to pay rent

Long Island Landlord Settles Discrimination Case With $18K
1 Homestead Drive in Coram LI with Long Island Housing Services executive director Ian Wilder (Oakview Apartments Coram, LIFairHousing.org)

The owner of a multifamily property on Long Island is being dinged after being accused of discriminating against a tenant who wanted to use unemployment benefits to pay rent.

Fair housing nonprofit Long Island Housing Services agreed to a settlement with the owners of Oakview Apartments in Suffolk County’s Coram, Newsday reported. The property’s ownership is obscured by a limited liability company, but the 433-unit property is managed by New Jersey-based Cole Group Realty. The LLC is registered to the same building where Cole Group is based.

The entities agreed to pay $18,000 to LIHS and adopt a nondiscriminatory fair housing policy, posting signage about the laws and participating in fair housing training. The woman also agreed to a separate confidential settlement with ownership and management.

In 2021, LIHS received a complaint from a woman alleging she was denied use of unemployment benefits to pay rent at the property. The nonprofit considered this to be an example of source-of-income discrimination and launched an investigation, which involved testers allegedly receiving denials on similar grounds from one of the property manager’s employees.

Cole Group didn’t respond to a request for comment from the outlet. 

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Source-of-income discrimination is prohibited by local and state law, allowing for tenants’ use of government vouchers and benefits. People eligible for unemployment benefits in New York can receive them for half a year during a one-year period. 

An attorney for a civil rights practice told the outlet landlords shouldn’t be able to discriminate against the use of unemployment benefits, reasoning the benefit’s expiration is no different than the possibility of income disappearing in a state where employment is at-will. 

Bohemia-based LIHS often takes on fights involving rental discrimination disputes. In November, it received a $15,000 settlement from Renaissance Management, which owns two properties in Hauppauge. Renaissance was accused of systematically rejecting prospective tenants who planned to use Section 8 housing vouchers on rent.

Holden Walter-Warner

Read more

A discrimination complaint by Ian Wilder’s nonprofit led to a settlement with Renaissance Management. Inset: 1710 Devonshire Road (Realtor, Long Island Fair Housing)
Long Island landlord forks over $15K to settle voucher case
Long Island Board of Realtor's Tessa Hultz (LIRealtor.com, HomeForAllOfUs.org, iStock)
How not to discriminate: Long Island Realtors launch fair housing effort
New Jersey attorney general Matthew Platkin (New Jersey Attorney General, Getty)
Landlords escape with wrist-slaps in NJ voucher cases
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