A Bronx landlord is accused of discriminating against prospective black tenants, telling them there are no vacancies available moments after telling white applicants that the building has open apartments. According to the lawsuit, secret recordings were made by undercover testers that allegedly revealed blatant discrimination by the landlord via hidden microphones.
The Fair Housing Justice filed the federal lawsuit against J.J.A. Holding Corp., a company accused of lying to prospective black tenants who were inquiring about two buildings in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx. In both cases, audio recordings catch rental agent Ray Brij-Raj telling the black candidates that there were no vacancies in the buildings right after he told white candidates there were, the suit alleges.
The landlord, J.J.A., owns at least five large buildings in the Bronx with more than 200 units in total. The lawsuit says the company doesn’t advertise available apartments, relying instead on referrals from existing tenants.
The Fair Housing Justice claims investigators did multiple tests at buildings in the Woodlawn neighborhood over several months before deciding to file the suit. The buildings where the organization did its tests are in a neighborhood where less than 5 percent of residents are black. The neighborhood directly to the east is 51 to 75 percent black, while the one to the north is between 6 percent and 25 percent black.
On two separate occasions, black housing testers arrived at J.J.A.’s buildings just as white housing testers were leaving, the lawsuit says. In both instances, the white housing testers saw apartments, but said they were not interested in them before leaving. Moments later in both cases, the black housing testers arrived, passing the white testers. The black testers then asked Brij-Raj if there were apartments available, the lawsuit says. In both cases, Brij-Raj told them the white people who had just left had rented the apartment, a lie, the lawsuit says.
Under federal law, it is illegal to discriminate against anyone for housing on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, national origin, presence of children and disability. Additional protections are often afforded under state and local laws. If you or a loved one believe you have been a victim of race discrimination against contact an experienced real estate attorney.