Housing Discrimination Claim Stated, and Injunction Issued, Based on Limitation to “Working Section 8” Residents

In Rodriguez v. 308 Hull LLC, 2018 NY Slip Op 32457(U), 451200/2018 (NY Sup. Ct. NY Cty. Sept. 27, 2018) (J. Tisch), the court held that plaintiff made out a prima facie case of housing discrimination under the New York City Human Rights Law, and was entitled to injunctive relief.

The court summarized the governing provisions of the New York City Human Rights Law:

Under the NYC HRL, it is an unlawful discriminatory practice for the owner, lessor, lessee, sublessee, assignee, or managing agent of, … a housing accommodation … , or any agent or employee thereof to refuse to sell, rent, lease, approve the sale, rental or lease or otherwise deny to or withhold from any such person or group of persons such a housing accommodation or an interest therein because of any lawful source of income of such person or persons. … It is also an “an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person engaged in any activity to which this chapter applies to retaliate or discriminate in any manner against any person because such person has engaged in certain protected conduct, such as oppos[ing] any practice forbidden under this chapter, filing a complaint or assisting the CCHR in its investigation into discriminatory practices, among others[.] … The courts have consistently held that a landlord’s refusal to accept a legitimate Section 8 voucher constitutes unlawful discrimination[.]

In this case, the court found that plaintiff “credibly contend[s] that [an agent with the broker, Base Realty, that listed the subject apartment] specifically told them that the owner only accepts working Section 8; therefore, a refusal to accept Section 8 alone would be an unlawful discriminatory practice.”

The court also found that plaintiff stated a retaliation claim, noting “credible allegations that [defendant] stated that he did not want to rent to anyone who made complaints about eh defendants to a City agency.”

In sum, after balancing the appropriate factors, the court held that plaintiff was entitled to a preliminary injunction prohibiting the renting or leasing the subject apartment pending the conclusion of the litigation.

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