News and Press Releases

United States Files Suit Against Two Owners in Fresh Meadows for Fair Housing Act Violations

September 23, 2009

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – Benton J. Campbell, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, today announced the filing of a federal Fair Housing Act civil complaint against Emanuil Uvaydov and Vyacheslav Uvaydov, brothers and joint owners of a house in Fresh Meadows, New York. The complaint alleges that Vyacheslav Uvaydov made statements indicating that he and his brother would not rent an apartment in the house to African-Americans. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against people in connection with the sale of a home or rental of an apartment on account of their race, color, or national origin. Under the Act, landlords cannot make, or cause to be made, statements that indicate a preference for excluding certain racial or ethnic groups from being able to rent an apartment.

According to the government’s complaint, the defendants advertised an apartment for rent on Craigslist. On five separate occasions, testers employed by both the National Fair Housing Alliance and Long Island Housing Services, two fair housing advocacy groups, tried to rent the apartment. On each occasion, when the testers called to inquire about the availability of the apartment, the defendants asked them to identify their national origin. One tester was allegedly told that the apartment could not be rented to her because her roommate was African-American and that there would be complaints in the neighborhood if the apartment were rented to an African-American. The complaint further alleges that on another occasion, the defendants falsely told a tester that the apartment was rented after learning the tester was an African-American.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief requiring the defendants to cease and desist from making or causing to be made, any statements that indicate a preference for excluding certain racial groups from renting an apartment from them. The complaint further seeks damages to compensate persons harmed by these discriminatory practices.

“The law is clear that landlords may not express racial preferences in the renting of apartments,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “Landlords who do so or otherwise state that they will not rent an apartment to a particular group of people on account of race, color, or national origin, will be held accountable for failing to comply with the Fair Housing Act.”

“Race should never be a factor in denying someone a home,” said John Trasvina, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “HUD commends the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York for filing this law suit.”

The government’s case is being litigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy D. Lynch.



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