Fairfield Ct. Landlord Settles Housing Bias Complaint for $7,000

Contact: JOSEPH WINCZE, JR., 203-576-8323
FAIR HOUSING ASSOCIATION OF CONNECTICUT
45 LYON TERRACE BRIDGEPORT, CT 06604

Date: July 31, 2002

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

"Don't want young kids in the house at all and want a woman who will take care of the property!" According to local real estate agent, Mark Greenstein of Greenstein Real Estate, these were the stated preferences of landlord Jimmy Lemonidis with regards to who he and his wife, Evanthia, wanted to rent their 3-bedroom Highland Avenue house when looking for a tenant in the summer of 2000. So when an application submitted by agent Greenstein from three Fairfield University students (single males, age 21) was rejected by Lemonidis, he had strong suspicions he knew the reason why. Now two years later, the Lemonidises have recently settled a housing discrimination complaint filed by one of those former students and it has cost them $7,000.

23 year-old Paul Genereux III of Long Island is the beneficiary of that settlement. When they couldn't find housing on campus prior to the start of their senior year, Genereux and two of his fellow classmates decided to search for housing off campus. The single-family house owned by Evanthis Lemonidis appeared to be the perfect solution to their problem until they got turned down. In his sworn complaint affidavit, Genereux indicated he believed the official reason given for rejection (insufficient documentation of income) was simply a pretext for the real reasons: their age and their sex. His complaint mentions statements made by Mr. Lemonidis to the effect he did not want to rent to young people and preferred a woman. The affidavit states, "Although we are young males, we have every intention on taking care of the place and resent the implication that we would be less than responsible tenants."

Upon being rejected, Genereux was referred by Mark Greenstein to the offices of the Fair Housing Association of Connecticut in Bridgeport where the agency's President, Joe Wincze assisted him with the filing of a formal complaint with the Connecticut Commission On Human Rights & Opportunities. Wincze also helped him to get legal representation free of charge. In December, 2001, the Connecticut Commission made a finding of REASONABLE CAUSE believing that following a full and complete investigation of the charges that Evanthia and Jimmy Lemonidis have committed a discriminatory practice. This summer the parties finally agreed to settle the matter and a Stipulated Agreement was drawn up and signed calling for the Lemonidises to pay $7,000 to Genereux.

Wincze stated that credit goes to Genereux's attorney, Alan Rosner of Bridgeport, for negotiating a good settlement but credit must also be certainly given to the real estate agent, Mark Greenstein. "Apparently he knew an injustice was being done and was also aware of the state law which provides protection from discrimination based on age as well as sex. He was the one who encouraged Paul to contact me and, although it eventually took two years, now Mr. Genereux has received his graduation gift and, hopefully, the Lemonidises have learned an important lesson!"