Opening Acts: March 9, 2020

Photo © by Bernard Kleina

March 9, 2020

Race Discrimination Lawsuit Settles


Today, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) announced that a settlement has been reached in a fair housing lawsuit against ZP Realty Capital LLC; 1411 Apt. LLC; landlord and broker Zev Pollak; and building superintendent Eldina Balic. The federal lawsuit, filed in August 2019 by the FHJC and five African American testers, alleged that the defendants racially discriminated against African American prospective renters in violation of federal, state, and local fair housing laws.

An undercover testing investigation conducted by the FHJC disclosed that teams of African American and white testers sent to a 48-unit rental building located at 1411 Avenue N in Midwood (Brooklyn) were treated very differently based on race. Over several years, white testers were repeatedly shown available apartments at the building while no African American testers ever saw an apartment.     

While the defendants deny liability, they agreed to pay $300,000, comply with fair housing laws, and implement activities that will ensure future compliance including, but not limited to:

  • Adopting an equal housing opportunity policy for all company principals, employees and agents managing three apartment buildings;
  • Including fair housing logos and language in all rental ads and application forms, and displaying the HUD fair housing poster in offices and apartment lobbies;
  • Placing an ad on prominent real estate websites for every unit that becomes available at 1411 Avenue N;
  • Hiring a third-party broker to advertise and show apartments at 1411 Avenue N., with the landlord paying the broker’s fee;
  • Maintaining certain rental records for inspection by the FHJC for the duration of the three (3) year agreement; and
  • Fair housing training by the FHJC for employees, agents, and owners directly involved in the renting and/or managing apartments at three apartment buildings.

The defendants also agreed to notify tenants regarding their right to reimbursement of any broker’s fee that may have been paid to the defendants for renting an apartment at 1411 Avenue N between January 1, 2016 and July 17, 2019.

The agreement was so-ordered by United States District Judge Hon. Nicholas G. Garaufis. The plaintiffs were represented by Diane L. Houk and Scout Katovich with the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, LLP.

FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg stated, “African American renters and home buyers continue to face persistent and pervasive racial discrimination in housing fifty-two years after the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act. Over the next few years, the FHJC will focus more of its investigative and enforcement resources on ferreting out racially discriminatory housing practices throughout the New York City region.”

The mission of the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws in the New York City region.