Connecticut landlord pays $9,000 for violating state law against source of income discrimination

Gafur Imetovski, the owner of a 3-family rental house in Shelton, Connecticut, has paid $9,000 to settle a housing discrimination complaint filed by a Section 8 tenant. Discrimination against Section 8 voucher holders is illegal under Connecticut’s state fair housing law.

In December 2001, Ebony Perez, a single mother with two daughters, responded to an ad placed by Imetovski. Imetovski told Perez that he was not accepting Section 8. According to Perez, he informed her he wasn’t taking Section 8 because, “They want me to fix too much.”

Imetovski allegedly told Perez that he would only rent to her if she did so without her Section 8 rental subsidy. “I don’t want to get involved with those people. I want someone with no problems,” Imetovski allegedly said.

Perez reported the incident to the Ansonia Section 8 Office and she was referred to the Fair Housing Association of Connecticut in Bridgeport. After conducting a test to gather the necessary evidence, the Association assisted Perez in filing her complaint with the Connecticut Commission On Human Rights & Opportunities.

Connecticut law prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants on rental assistance programs, which falls under the category of discrimination against one’s “source of income.” Only a handful of states offer such protection. In February 2003, the Connecticut Commission made a reasonable cause finding. That finding means that after the completion of a full investigation, the Commission believed that Imetovski had most likely discriminated against Perez. Following the finding, the parties negotiated a settlement which required Imetovski to pay $9,000 to Perez.

The settlement agreement included a statement that Imetovski is not admitting liability or violation of Connecticut’s fair housing laws. The settlement also requires Imetovski to participate in a comprehensive fair housing training seminar to be conducted by the Connecticut Fair Housing Center in Hartford.

Perez’s attorney, Alan Rosner of Bridgeport, said he was satisfied with the settlement he was able to negotiate for his client but was sorry the case took so long to resolve. Perez admitted that the delay was frustrating but commented, “Good things come sometimes to those who are willing to wait.”