July 26, 2022
Any form of discrimination in the housing process whether buying or renting has a chilling effect on the entire housing industry. We write about Fair Housing Act cases frequently to remind house hunters of their rights under the law. One of the latest developments in this area involves the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s involvement in a Fair Housing Act case in Long Island, New York.
HUD announced in July 2022 that an Administrative Law Judge delivered a decision finding Long Island landlord Alex Raimos guilty of violating the Fair Housing Act, ordering Raimos to pay some $70 thousand in penalties and damages.
This Fair Housing case began because the landlord refused to rent “to a mother and her daughter because of the daughter’s cerebral palsy” according to a HUD press release. According to the complaint, a potential renter approached landlord Alex Raimos, who initially agreed to rent a unit and accepted a security deposit.
The HUD press release indicates that Raimos changed his mind after learning about the medical issues the renter’s daughter has. The administrative law judge in this case, quoted on the HUD official site, notes, “outright refusal to rent is arguably the most egregious form of fair housing violation” with the renter denied a housing opportunity for no good reason.
In 2021, HUD charged Alex Raimos with violating the Fair Housing Act. When these violations are prosecuted, they are typically brought before an administrative law judge unless any party objects.
In this case, no objections were raised, and the case went before the judge, who found Raimos to be in violation of Fair Housing laws. The landlord was ordered to pay just over $20 thousand in civil penalties to the federal government, and approximately $50 thousand paid to the victims of the discrimination.
Fair Housing Act laws make it a crime to discriminate against a potential buyer or renter because of disability. This includes refusing to rent a property to someone using a person’s disability as the excuse or motivation for saying no.
“Persons with disabilities have been protected from discrimination in housing by the Fair Housing Act for more than 30 years, yet they continue to be subjected to discriminatory treatment,” according to Demetria L. McCain, HUD Principal Assistant Deputy Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, who is quoted in the HUD press release.
McCain adds, “HUD is committed to vigorously enforcing the Act to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities.” Punishing Fair Housing Act violators is an important part of the “deterrent” aspect of the law, at least according to HUD legal counsel.
“The fact that a landlord would refuse to rent to a family because a child has disabilities is inexcusable,” said HUD’s General Counsel, Damon Smith, also quoted in the HUD press release.. “This decision should make clear to other housing providers that such actions are also illegal and costly.”
If you have been the victim of housing discrimination, contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice) 800-927-9275 (TTY).