NJ Attorney General Takes Action in Eight Cases of Source of Income Housing Discrimination
Morristown, NJ - In a significant move that underscores the state's commitment to fair housing, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced that probable cause has been found in eight housing discrimination cases related to the source of income.
The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) concluded that the alleged violations occurred in rental properties across six counties, including Atlantic, Bergen, Essex, Ocean, Passaic, and Union.
Under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD), it is illegal for landlords to deny rental opportunities or discourage potential tenants based on their receipt of government rental assistance. The announcement follows the DCR’s initial investigations, which have now deemed that there is enough evidence to suggest that the LAD has been violated.
According to the legal framework, individuals found conclusively to be in violation of the LAD may be subject to penalties ranging from $10,000 for their first offense to up to $50,000 for multiple violations within a five-year span. However, these findings of probable cause do not constitute a final verdict on the cases.
“We have a duty to eliminate discriminatory barriers to safe, affordable housing in New Jersey, where that basic right is protected by law,” Attorney General Platkin said. "Today’s actions reflect our ongoing dedication to protecting our residents.”
Cases under scrutiny include allegations that renters were denied housing due to their participation in government programs such as the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. Other cases involved rental assistance from Catholic Family Services and Essex County Citizens Services.
The respondents in these cases span a range of housing providers, including real estate brokers and realtors. In a notable Bergen County instance, a broker was recorded saying the housing provider would not accept Section 8 vouchers. Another case highlighted an Ocean County landlord refusing to cooperate in the ERAP process, with sufficient evidence suggesting harassment of the potential renter.
Director of the Division on Civil Rights, Sundeep Iyer, affirmed the state’s commitment to eliminating housing discrimination. “We are committed to ensuring that all New Jersey residents have access to safe, affordable housing,” he said.
The findings of probable cause are a key step forward in addressing housing discrimination in the state, especially for Morris County residents who rely on various forms of government assistance for housing. The cases will now move towards final adjudication either by the Superior Court or the Office of Administrative Law.