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NJ Unearths Housing Discrimination Cases in Atlantic, Bergen, Essex, Ocean, Passaic, and Union Counties

New Jersey

Real Estate

By: Richard L. Smith 

Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin revealed that the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) has taken action against housing discrimination by issuing findings of probable cause in eight separate cases.

These cases all revolve around alleged violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, specifically targeting discrimination based on the source of lawful income.

In all eight instances, the individuals seeking rental housing encountered obstacles due to their receipt of rental assistance.

Some were denied rental opportunities outright, while others faced hurdles when landlords refused to complete necessary documentation, preventing them from accessing rental assistance.

Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), landlords are prohibited from refusing to rent to potential tenants or discouraging them from renting based on their receipt of government rental assistance.

The cases span six counties in New Jersey: Atlantic, Bergen, Essex, Ocean, Passaic, and Union.

The issuance of findings of probable cause signifies that DCR has completed its preliminary investigation and found sufficient evidence to support reasonable suspicions of LAD violations.

It's important to note that these findings do not represent final adjudications, as final determinations will be made by the Superior Court or the Office of Administrative Law.

Penalties for violations of the LAD can be substantial, ranging up to $10,000 per violation for a first-time offender and up to $50,000 per violation for repeat violations within a five-year period.

Real Estate

Attorney General Platkin emphasized the state's commitment to dismantling discriminatory barriers to safe and affordable housing. He stated, "Anyone who refuses to rent to or discourages potential renters from renting because they receive rental assistance is violating the LAD and will be held accountable."

Sundeep Iyer, Director of the Division on Civil Rights, highlighted New Jersey's robust legal protections against housing discrimination. Iyer emphasized that individuals cannot be denied housing based on their use of housing vouchers or government rental assistance.

The Division on Civil Rights is dedicated to ensuring all New Jersey residents have access to safe, affordable housing, and it will continue to hold housing providers accountable for any discriminatory actions.

The eight cases encompass a range of discriminatory conduct. For instance, one Bergen County case involved a broker repeatedly stating that Section 8 housing vouchers would not be accepted.

In another case in Ocean County, a landlord refused to provide essential documents required for the county's Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which assists low-income households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evidence in this case also suggested harassment of the complainant due to their attempt to use rental assistance.

In an Essex County case, a landlord failed to cooperate with a potential renter in completing necessary documentation for temporary rental assistance, erroneously claiming that the agency providing rental assistance was not an "accepted agency."

The LAD mandates that landlords accept payment from all rental assistance programs.

These actions by the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights underscore the state's unwavering commitment to combating housing discrimination and ensuring fair and equitable access to housing opportunities for all residents.