real estate, discrimination, New York

Black Woman Sues NYC’s Luxury Realtors For Discrimination

Shaniqua Newkirk is suing the luxury realtor Douglas Elliman for alleged discrimination against her. The Black woman claims that the agents were unhelpful in her search for low-income housing, violating the laws of the Fair Housing Act.

Newkirk requested their services in 2021 to find housing that accepts Section 8 renters, as the federally regulated program helps low-income or elderly individuals source private living accommodations. However, as listed in the suit in detail by the Daily Mail, Newkirk claims that the realtors were either unresponsive or unwilling to provide substantive help.

As for the realtors who gave meager responses to Newkirk’s inquiry, they clarified that they would not be of much service in the matter.

An agent listed as a defendant, Madeline Hult Elghanayan, stated that she solely works in expensive home sales and renters.

“I only specialize in luxury real estate transactions and don’t even know what sec 8 means,” Elghanayan allegedly told Newkirk.

One of the realtors, Cybele Kadagian, wrote to Newkirk that she had no apartments available that would accept Section 8 applicants. However, she immediately followed up by asking what she could actually spend instead, not obliging her request for affordable housing.

“Yes, landlords do accept Section 8. I do not currently have any of these apartments. What are you willing to spend and what area,” the agent asked.

Another agent who the New York resident reached out to proceed to ghost her after she revealed her voucher’s monetary limit of $1,705. The realtors’ failure to provide further guidance to Newkirk is not in line with the rules and procedures determined by the Fair Housing Act.

In light of the lawsuit, a spokesperson for the realtor company emphasized that they are committed to ensuring fair and nondiscriminatory practices in the housing search.

“Douglas Elliman has a zero-tolerance policy towards unfair and illegal treatment of any individual or group,” the spokesperson stated. “We pride ourselves on our mandatory agent training program that includes rigorous, fair housing law education.”

As the case goes under further investigation, the licenses of these agents could be revoked if found guilty of housing discrimination.