Compass Settles Lawsuit Accusing Brokerage Of Voucher Discrimination
Compass has agreed to train brokers in voucher programs and will increase its commissions for brokers locking down Section 8 leases as part of a deal to put a discrimination lawsuit against the brokerage to bed.
Housing Rights Initiative sued 88 brokerages and landlords, accusing them of turning away callers who had expressed a desire to rent with vouchers, The Real Deal reports. The group reached settlements with multiple firms, per the publication, and Compass specifically has agreed to provide education to first-time homebuyers on tenants' rights.
Under state law in New York, landlords aren't allowed to refuse tenants on the grounds they want to use Section 8 housing vouchers, veterans benefits or other forms of legal income. But in the complaint, a Compass broker was accused of saying that a voucher was “not an option that I would even explore entertaining,” while another said that “we don’t do Section 8 vouchers in this building,” according to The Washington Post.
“This agreement sets an important precedent that will reverberate across the real estate sector and put pressure on other real estate companies to reform their discriminatory business practices,” HRI founder and Executive Director Aaron Carr said in a statement to TRD.
Compass didn't specify the size of the incentives it agreed to give its brokers for arranging Section 8 deals. Other groups named in the suit agreed to set aside apartments specifically for renters using subsidies, and still others agreed to put up signage to explain that voucher users would be welcome in their businesses.
New York City received more than 7,000 emergency housing vouchers last year from the federal government, but as of late March, the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the New York City Housing Authority had issued fewer than a third of those vouchers, per City Limits.
Nationally, rents have jumped across the country. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment reached an all-time high of $1,400 last month, according to data from Zumper.
So far, rent growth this year is outpacing 2021 — the year that saw the highest annual increase in a generation. In New York City, one-bedroom apartments are priced at a median of $3,260, according to Zumper.