HomeOthersThis $5,750-a-month apartment in Brooklyn has a smell test - UnlistedNews

This $5,750-a-month apartment in Brooklyn has a smell test – UnlistedNews

The listing of real estate that briefly appeared in Brooklyn last week sounded enticing: two spacious, sun-soaked full-floor apartments in a sprawling brick townhouse in Fort Greene with spectacular outdoor spaces and period details.

The “wonderful vegan owner,” the broker wrote, had only one house rule: “no meat or fish in the building.”

Even in a city where renters will pay royal prices to live in an apartment with a bathtub in the kitchen or a study so cramped you can touch both walls at once, the meatless climb is unusual.

But at an appointment-only open house on Sunday, the steady stream of prospective tenants, only some of whom said they were vegetarians, indicated the rule wasn’t an automatic deal breaker. (Apparently, neither was the price: The apartments, both one-bedrooms, rent for $4,500 and $5,750.)

Actually, the broker, Andrea Kelly, explained to a prospect that carnivores weren’t off-limits; cooking meat and fish was. “It’s not just for vegetarians, but the owner lives in the building and he doesn’t want the smell of cooking meat going upstairs,” she said.

So, sushi, steak tartare, and takeout: yes. Roasting a chicken: absolutely not.

The owner, Michal Arieh Lerer, declined to speak to a reporter, and Kelly and her employers at Douglas Elliman declined to comment. But Lerer’s ex-husband, a co-owner of the building and also a vegan, said the two had refused to rent to carnivores who cook since they bought the house in 2007.

“This is not about discrimination,” said her ex-husband, Motti Lerer. “You have to fit into the building.”

All of which begs the question: Is this legal?

Seems to be. City Human Rights Law lists 14 features that landlords cannot consider when deciding whether to rent an apartment to someone, including age, race, familial status, job, source of income, and sexual orientation. The hobby for hamburgers is not one of them.

It is this “permitted unless specifically prohibited” construction of anti-discrimination law that makes it perfectly legal for landlords to refuse to rent to smokers; they are not a protected class either.

Lucas A. Ferrara, an adjunct professor at New York Law School and co-author of the multi-volume book “Landlord and Tenant Practice in New York,” said a potential tenant could fight the meat ban if, for example, demonstrated they had a medical condition that required some form of “reasonable accommodation” on the part of the landlord.

“In the absence of such an exception,” Ferrara wrote, “the restriction would otherwise be permissible.”

The listing mentioning the rule, on nextdoor.com, was removed Friday, the day after it was posted, but Douglas Elliman still includes he apartments on his own site, though without mentioning the meat policy. The listings state: “Cats on a case by case basis (only one please).”

A curious couple who were unaware of the meat rule balked when they found out.

“Oh, we don’t meet those requirements,” said the woman, Tessa Ruben.

Then she and her partner, Darian Ghassemi, did some more thinking.

“We ask for a lot anyway,” said Ms. Ruben, 29, who works for a nonprofit organization.

“The terrace looks great,” said Ghassemi, 31, who works in sales.

They were unable to enter the building because they did not have an appointment to view the apartments. After some more discussion, they decided that this was probably for the best.

“The thing that makes me more nervous than the rule itself,” Ms. Ruben said, “is knowing that someone is upstairs making sure you follow it.”


Sara Marcus
Sara Marcushttps://unlistednews.com
Meet Sara Marcus, our newest addition to the Unlisted News team! Sara is a talented author and cultural critic, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications. Sara's writing style is characterized by its incisiveness and thought-provoking nature, and her insightful commentary on music, politics, and social justice is sure to captivate our readers. We are thrilled to have her join our team and look forward to sharing her work with our readers.


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