NJ landlords under investigation for housing discrimination in five counties

In six cases where New Jersey renters say they were denied apartments because they had public housing assistance, preliminary investigations from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office found landlords in Bergen, Sussex, Union, Atlantic and Hunterdon counties likely violated the law, the office announced Friday.

New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination prohibits property owners from turning down applicants based on how they would pay their rent, as well as race, gender, marital status and other traits.

An Asbury Park Press investigation showed that landlords across the state blatantly reject rental applications from Section 8 housing voucher holders, and that state officials were lax in enforcing the law.

“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,” said Sundeep Iyer, director of the Division on Civil Rights, in a press release. “The enforcement actions we are announcing today send a clear signal: We will not tolerate discrimination against housing applicants simply because they receive government rental assistance.”

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The office issued findings of probable cause in six cases – meaning the office found evidence the law had likely been violated – and consent decrees in two cases in Essex and Somerset counties, agreements that require the landlords to receive training, make payments for administrative costs to the Attorney General’s Office and to the person that filed the complaint.

In the Union County case, the renter alleged a landlord refused to provide documents to help the tenant apply for emergency rental assistance, while in Atlantic County, the housing provider published a Craigslist ad that included the words “NO SECTION 8.”

To report housing discrimination in New Jersey, visit NJCivilRights.gov or call 866-405-3050.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NJ landlords under investigation for discrimination in five counties