The state Division on Civil Rights (DCR) has issued findings of probable cause in six cases and consent decrees in another two cases that involve alleged violations of the prohibition against housing discrimination based on source of lawful income.
All eight cases involve allegations that individuals seeking rental housing were denied the opportunity to rent because they were receiving federal, state or local rental assistance, said Attorney General Matthew Platkin.
Under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD), landlords cannot refuse to rent to potential tenants or discourage them from renting because they receive government rental assistance.
The findings of probable cause were issued in six cases involving the denial of rental housing in Atlantic, Bergen, Hunterdon, Sussex and Union counties. They indicate that DCR has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support a reasonable suspicion that the law has been violated. The findings of probable cause are not a final adjudication of the case on the merits.
The two consent decrees were issued in cases involving alleged housing discrimination in Essex and Somerset counties.
“Landlords who turn away potential renters who receive rental assistance are in violation of the LAD,” Platkin said. “Such practices undermine lower-income New Jerseyans’ ability to secure adequate housing. With the enforcement actions announced today, we’re putting all landlords on notice that housing discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated.”
Sundeep Iyer, DCR director, said, “Housing discrimination has no place in New Jersey. Our laws provide strong protections against housing discrimination, and we are committed to enforcing them and ensuring that all New Jersey residents have access to safe, affordable housing.”
The findings of probable cause involve source-of-income discrimination allegations involving not only rental of single-family homes but also larger rental properties.
In the Atlantic, Bergen, Hunterdon and Sussex counties cases, the complaints alleged that landlords refused to rent to applicants because of the applicants’ intent to pay part of their rent through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program (Section 8) or other rental-assistance programs.
The Section 8 voucher program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and provides assistance to low-income families, the elderly and individuals with disabilities so that they can afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private housing market.
Landlords who turn away potential renters who receive rental assistance are in violation of the LAD (Law Against Discrimination). Such practices undermine lower-income New Jerseyans’ ability to secure adequate housing. With the enforcement actions announced today, we’re putting all landlords on notice that housing discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated.” - New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin