Attorney General Reaches Agreement with New Rochelle Brokerage on Discrimination Charges

“This agreement will open up housing specifically for low-income New Yorkers and send a clear message that this kind of discrimination is unacceptable in our communities,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Attorney General Reaches Agreement with New Rochelle Brokerage on Discrimination Charges
New York Attorney General Letitia James

NEW YORK—New York Attorney General Letitia James announced earlier today (Feb. 5) an agreement with real estate broker Pasquale Marciano and his companies, Century 21 Marciano, Anthony Marciano Real Estate Inc., and New Roc Property Management to stop what the Attorney General’s office described as illegal policies that denied housing opportunities to low-income renters.

The Office of the Attorney General, with assistance from the Housing Rights Initiative, found that real estate agents, who Marciano oversees, violated local and state laws by refusing to rent apartments to investigators who indicated that they intended to use a Section 8 Housing Choice voucher to pay rent. As part of the agreement with OAG, Marciano, who owns 13 multifamily rental properties throughout New Rochelle with a total of 76 units, must place nine tenants using Section 8 or other government housing subsidies in units he owns and pay $40,000 to the state, among other actions to make housing more accessible for low-income renters.

“Discrimination against low-income New Yorkers denies opportunities to those most in need of housing assistance,” said Attorney General James. “This agreement will open up housing specifically for low-income New Yorkers and send a clear message that this kind of discrimination is unacceptable in our communities. I want to thank the Housing Rights Initiative for their help with this investigation and consistent work to fight housing discrimination.”

Refusing to rent to prospective tenants based on their source of income is illegal discrimination under New York law, and wrongly denies New Yorkers equal access to housing. Owners, landlords, property managers, rental agents, and brokers cannot refuse to accept potential tenants solely because they receive housing subsidies. Government-issued rental vouchers, such as the Section 8 Housing Choice voucher program, provide housing assistance to the lowest-income households to rent decent, safe housing in the private market. These programs also aid senior citizens and disabled persons on fixed incomes, displaced families, and homeless individuals with disabilities, according to the Attorney General’s office.

At the time of the investigation, Marciano, as the owner and head real estate broker at Century 21 Marciano, oversaw the rental leasing practices of more than 25 real estate sales agents representing Westchester landlords seeking to rent apartments. An investigation done by HRI revealed that Century 21 Marciano enforced a policy that prohibited Section 8 holders from submitting applications for rental units. Century 21 Marciano agents specifically told investigators that the units they inquired about did not accept Section 8 vouchers because they “preferred not to”—a violation of state and local antidiscrimination laws. According to court documents, the investigation into Century 21 Marciano’s activities began in January 2019 and lasted until the date of the agreement—Jan. 12, 2024.

Under the agreement with OAG, Marciano and any customer-facing staff member at his companies must undergo antidiscrimination training. Marciano must also implement an anti-discrimination policy and distribute it to everyone involved in the rental process at his companies. Rental applications must include clear anti-discrimination statements containing the sentence, “We are happy to consider applicants who have housing vouchers or subsidies.” Additionally, Marciano must publicly advertise all vacant units and include that government housing vouchers, such as Section 8, are accepted on every rental listing. Finally, Marciano must ensure that rental application fees are capped at the $20 maximum and, during the five-year period of the agreement, must also waive broker fees for any applicants seeking to use a government housing subsidy for their rental.

Attorney General James has consistently taken action to fight housing discrimination and protect low-income tenants. In October 2023, Attorney General James took action against another Westchester property owner and manager for discriminating against low-income renters. In 2022, Attorney General James took action to stop “tenant blacklisting” and partnered with HRI to stop the real estate company Compass from denying housing to low-income New Yorkers. In July 2022, Attorney General James recovered nearly $300,000 of illegally withheld security deposits for Brooklyn tenants. In April 2022, Attorney General James sued Brooklyn-based eviction lawyers for engaging in deceptive rent collection practices and initiating frivolous lawsuits against New York tenants.

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