NYC announced charges Wednesday morning, July 19, against a Ridgewood landlord who allegedly reported immigrant tenants in the building to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office and the commission declined to identify the exact location of the apartment and the landlord’s identity, to protect the tenants’ safety.
Back in March the apartment’s tenants went to a nonprofit group called Make the Road New York and reported their landlord for actively discriminating against them based on their immigration status.
The nonprofit filed a complaint on the incident with the NYC commission that then served the landlord with a notice about the complaint, according to a statement released by the mayor’s office.
However, the landlord denied the charges but indicated that he sent a copy of his letter to ICE, which included tenants’ private information. According to the commission, this breaks the city’s Human Rights Law’s retaliation protections, which prohibit landlords from discriminating against or harassing tenants because of their national origin or immigration status.
The NYC commission has subsequently charged the landlord for retaliation against his tenants and the city is waiting for a response from the landlord.
De Blasio said in a tweet July 19, “We do not tolerate housing discrimination in New York City. Period.”
We do not tolerate housing discrimination in New York City. Period. https://t.co/F8lQqU1dS2
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) July 19, 2017
“Our message is loud and clear: we will hold landlords accountable for discrimination in our city,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We stand with tenants, regardless of their origin, in Queens and across the five boroughs.”
“The commission will not hesitate to take action against bad actors when they retaliate against New Yorkers who have reported discrimination,” added Sapna V. Raj, assistant commissioner of the Law Enforcement Bureau at the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
In the recent crackdown on landlords, the commission has sent cease and desist letters to landlord Zara Realty Holding Corp. in Queens for discriminating against immigrant tenants and landlord Jaideep Reddy also in Queens, according to the office.
The commission can fine violators up to $250,000 for “willful and malicious violations” of the law and award compensatory damages to the victims.
Over the last two years, the commission has doubled the overall number of investigations into discrimination based on immigration status or national origin. The department filed 376 claims in 2015–2016 compared to 155 claims in 2013–2014.