Landlord Challenges Zoning Restrictions
Claims Neighborhood “Gentrification” Policy Discriminates Against Minority Tenants
An Albany, New York landlord has filed a suit against the zoning board after some of his properties were declared nuisances and he was told he must take many of his units off the rental market in an up-and-coming neighborhood.
The landlord is claiming that the actions are motivated by discrimination because many of his tenants are minorities. He also claims that his tenants are being blamed for everything that goes badly in the neighborhood because many are low-income.
The lawsuit was filed in the state’s Supreme Court, alleging that the city exceeded its authority when it voided his right to rent out the units.
The board claims it was responding to neighborhood complaints, including concerns that the tenants are not being properly screened.
In its order, the zoning board claimed it could reduce the number of rental units that it would continue to allow this landlord to operate under current zoning terms from about 40 to only six.
The result could be a displacement of minority tenants away from the neighborhood, the landlord argues. The area has seen some recent construction, including plans for a new medical center.
The zoning board has denied that “gentrification” is the motivation behind the ruling. However, the board found that the old-style exterior of one building, that of a travel motel with exterior stairways, encourages disruptive behaviors.
While the city claims it has fielded a number of complaints and police calls, the landlord points out that many of the calls to the police were from him, asking for more intervention to control illegal activities in parking lots adjacent to his buildings.
The suit also names the local neighborhood association.
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