A Palisades Park real estate agent refused to show an apartment to a prospective tenant who wasn’t Korean, state authorities charged.
KayMax Realty, Inc. and the couple who own the basement apartment are listed in a complaint filed by the state Division of Civil Rights, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said Tuesday.
Anna Ceylan, who was seeking to move to New Jersey from New York City, saw a Zillow.com ad in mid-February 2018 and called KayMax to arrange a tour of the four-bedroom unit, Grewal said.
The agent listed as the contact “said she was too busy to talk and would call her back,” he said.
When the promised return call didn’t come, Ceylan contacted another agent employed with a different real estate agency, who showed her the apartment.
Ceylan said she and her husband “fell in love with” the unit but weren’t able to arrange a rental.
According to Ceylan, the agent who actually showed her the apartment said that the KayMax agent listed in the Zillow.com ad as the contact “had confided that the owners would not rent to a person who was not Korean,” Grewal said.
“New Jersey law clearly prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin in rental housing,” the attorney general said. “There is simply no excuse for real estate professionals to engage in or cooperate with such conduct – tacitly or otherwise.”
Ceylan sought assistance from the Fair Housing Council of Northern New Jersey (FHCNNJ).
FHCNNJ discovered that a short time after Ceylan expressed interest, the basement was no longer included as part of the apartment and the rent had been reduced.
Four days later, it was no longer available, Grewal said.
FHCNNJ subsequently referred the matter to the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, a Division within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
HUD then referred it to the state Division on Civil Rights as part of a work-sharing agreement.
State authorities found probable cause to support the argument that the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD)was violated.
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