Two tenants of New York City apartments have filed a class-action lawsuit in Manhattan State Supreme Court claiming the city’s property tax system unfairly discriminates against blacks and Hispanics living in rental buildings (See Complaint).
The suit, filed Wednesday, claims the system favors owners of co-ops, condos and single-family homes in violation of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Federal Fair Housing Act.
The claims are based on a 2013 analysis by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University that shows New York City households by tax class and property type. Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to live in rental properties that fall within a class where a high percentage of building property tax is passed along to the tenant.
“Such practices and procedures have resulted in the owners of rental properties where African-Americans and Hispanics predominantly reside paying higher taxes than owners of buildings wherein whites predominantly reside,” wrote real estate law firm Newman Ferrara, which is representing plaintiffs Ernest Robinson and Rosa Rodriguez.
The plaintiffs are not seeking monetary damages.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the suit seeks to throw out much of the city’s $20 billion property-tax system set up by the state Legislature in 1981.
The city says it will review the lawsuit.
Newman Ferrara lawyers working on the suit are Lucas Ferrara, Randolph McLaughlin, Debra Cohen and Jeffrey Norton.