How Do I Hold a Co-op Board Accountable for Discrimination?

Q: My associate and I submitted an software to purchase a co-op in Dumbo, however the board rejected us regardless of our strong financials and a sterling board package deal. Our dealer advised us it was due to our canines, regardless that the co-op is pet pleasant and we submitted quite a few character references for the canines. I suspect a completely different purpose: The day earlier than the rejection, we had been requested to submit a household picture. I suppose they rejected us as a result of I am a particular person of colour and coated in tattoos. What recourse do we have now?

A: A co-op board can reject an applicant for any purpose, or no purpose, as long as the reason being not discriminatory or an act of self-dealing on the a part of a board member. But because the board just isn’t required to reveal why it rejected your software, you’ll be laborious pressed to point out that the choice violated honest housing guidelines.

“Discrimination is hard to prove — not impossible but difficult to prove — unless you have witnesses willing to testify or some sort of documentary evidence,” mentioned Steven D. Sladkus, a actual property lawyer and associate on the Manhattan legislation agency Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas.

Start by submitting a grievance with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, as housing discrimination is roofed by the town’s human rights legislation. You might additionally file a grievance with the state Division of Human Rights. Both companies would examine your declare, and you may be awarded damages. Your subsequent step can be to name a lawyer and file a case by yourself. The board can be required to reveal its reasoning within the swimsuit, and for those who gained, you may be awarded damages. However, litigation is lengthy and costly, with no clear path to victory.

The excellent news is, change could also be on the horizon. Westchester lately handed a legislation requiring co-ops to reveal their reasoning for rejecting patrons, and to file the knowledge with the county Human Rights Commission. Boards additionally should clarify minimal monetary necessities to potential patrons. The State Senate is contemplating related laws, with a invoice in committee that will mandate “a uniform processes for considering applications” and set limits for how lengthy a board can take to think about an software.

For now, although, your choices are restricted to how far you might be prepared to pursue this subject.

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