Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s “Hostile Housing Environment” Claim Under the Fair Housing Act

In Spavone v. Transitional Servs. of New York Supportive Hous. Program (TSI), No. 16-CV-1219 (MKB), 2016 WL 2758269 (E.D.N.Y. May 12, 2016), the court assessed plaintiff’s claims of, e.g., disability, race and national origin discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604 et seq. (FHA).

The court explained that the FHA recognizes a “hostile housing environment” claim, and summarized that claim’s elements:

Courts in th[e] [Second] Circuit have construed section 3604(b) of the [Fair Housing Act] to prohibit the creation of a ‘hostile environment’ by individuals who have control or authority over the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, similar to the prohibition imposed by Title VII against the creation of a hostile work environment. … A plaintiff seeking to state a hostile housing environment claim must allege that (1) she was subjected to harassment that was sufficiently pervasive and severe so as to create a hostile [housing] environment, (2) the harassment was because of the plaintiff’s membership in a protected class, and (3) a basis exists for imputing the allegedly harassing conduct to the defendants, As with any claim asserted pursuant to the FHA, a plaintiff must also show a relationship between the discriminatory conduct and housing.

The court concluded that plaintiff’s complaint does not state a claim for hostile housing environment against any of the defendants based on race or national origin. Although plaintiff asserted that the property owner “harassed” him and “used racist slurs and discriminatory remarks,” such as “white American trash” and “white garbage,” concerning Plaintiff’s national origin, he “provides no allegations that connect [the] alleged racial harassment to Plaintiff’s housing conditions.”

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