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Feds file suit in Fresh Meadows rental bias case

The U.S. government filed a Fair Housing Act civil complaint in federal court last week against Fresh Meadows landlords Emanuil Uvaydov and Vyacheslav Uvaydov, charging the brothers refused to rent the home they co-own to African Americans.

The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages to compensate individuals harmed by the alleged discriminatory practices.

The Uvaydovs, who own a house at 71-02 171 St. in Fresh Meadows, allegedly made repeated inquiries about race and national origin to callers from the National Fair Housing Alliance and Long Island House Services posing as potential renters, according to the federal government’s complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court Sept. 23.

The charge goes on to say Vyacheslav Uvaydov allegedly asked callers responding to a Craigslist posting in 2007 whether they were Greek, Indian or Italian. When one caller from the National Fair Housing Alliance said her roommate would be African American, Vyacheslav Uvaydov allegedly told her that would be a problem because the neighborhood was white, the federal government charged.

“The law is clear that landlords may not express racial preferences in the renting of apartments,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Benton J. Campbell said. “Landlords who do so or otherwise state that they will not rent an apartment to a particular group of people on account of race, color or national origin, will be held accountable for failing to comply with the Fair Housing Act.”

The Uvaydov brothers purchased the home at 71-04 171st St. for $1.22 million in 2006, according to city documents. The two are listed as living at the home, but there is no phone number listed for the brothers. When a TimesLedger Newspapers reporter knocked on the brothers’ door last Thursday, there was no answer .

In another instance, Vyacheslav Uvaydov allegedly asked another tester where he was from and when the caller replied he was from Jamaica, Queens, the landlord asked where he came from “originally.” The tester responded he was from Queens, and Vyacheslav Uvaydov allegedly said, “No, I’m saying I understand, I mean, uh, are you Italian?”

After the tester said he was African American, the landlord allegedly told him the apartment had been rented.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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