Attorney General accuses apartment complex of discrimination

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WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing the owners of Ivybrooke Apartments for violating the Town of West Seneca’s fair housing law, which bars landlords from turning away prospective tenants on the basis of race, religion, gender, or “source of income”.

“This building manager was illegally rejecting potential tenants,” said Schneiderman, “simply because they were receiving government assistance to help pay rent.”

Schneiderman contends the owners, Ivybrooke Equity Enterprises LLC, refused to accept Section 8 rent vouchers from low income applicants which they receive from the government to help pay their rent.

The Attorney General contends that is discrimination, “More than two dozen tenants were turned away simply for the fact that they were relying on government assistance for part of their rent money every month.”

But Ivybrooke’s owners filed a lawsuit of their own, claiming the fair housing laws cited in the Attorney General’s lawsuit, are unconstitutional.

The owners declined to comment on either of the lawsuits, but in the case Ivybrooke filed against the Attorney General, their attorneys asserted in court documents, “Participation in the Section 8 program is voluntary. Landlords may lawfully refuse to accept rental applications from Section 8 voucher holders.”

Ivybrooke is also challenging the Attorney General’s authority to file a lawsuit of this kind. Schneiderman is seeking monetary damages against the owners.

“Our lawsuit seeks to force Ivybrooke to end this practice, adopt new policies to prevent discrimination against low income tenants, and to pay fines and restitution back to the state, and to prospective families that were denied access to the housing they deserve.”

The attorney for Ivybrooke declined to comment on the case, since both lawsuits are still pending, but he did confirm the owners are challenging the constitutionality of West Seneca’s fair housing ordinance.

Both cases have been filed in state court.

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