The city’s Commission on Human Rights announced on Friday that Sunnyside condo board member resigned as part of an investigation into his treatment of tenants at the property.
Neal Milano made headlines last August after a news report found that he often bullied tenants at the Sunnyside condo at 47-55 39th Pl. and made people feel uncomfortable by plastering Nazi imagery in the lobby.
In August 2017, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and other community leaders rallied in front of the building to call for an immediate investigation into Milano.
The lobby was covered in posters that pay tribute to dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini, as well as the National Rifle Association and President Donald Trump. It also includes quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President George Washington and William B. Travis.
At the press conference, Van Bramer said tenants have alleged threats of outrageous fines, eviction and even physical violence for filing harassment reports with police or for minor offenses, including recycling errors.
The city’s Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) opened an investigation into Milano in August 2017 and recently reached a settlement. Milano and two other board members were required to step down from the board and remove “all offensive posters, symbols and materials from the lobby.”
Changes must also be made to the condominium’s “House Rules” to comply with the NYC Human Rights Law, including the removal of a provision requiring tenants to prove their immigration status, which is illegal, and amending the condo’s no pets policy to include language about accommodating tenants with disabilities.
The new board of managers must also create and distribute new policies detailing its housing obligations under the NYC Human Rights Law to all tenants, post “Fair Housing” and “Notice of Rights” posters in the lobby and train newly elected board members on the law.
According to CCHR, a tenant told the agency that as she was walking into her apartment with her Puerto Rican boyfriend, Milano demanded to see his passport and said he “could be anyone illegal.”
Another tenant told the agency that Milano left her a voicemail claiming to be Adolf Hitler and said “the grandmaster of the KKK is coming to the lobby.” He also told the same unit owner, who wanted to rent her unit to a Latina woman, that “she’s Spanish. They are low lives and don’t pay the rent.”
“We hope this settlement sends a strong message to housing providers citywide that New York City does not tolerate discrimination or harassment and that we will not hesitate to take immediate action when we learn of violations,” said Assistant Commissioner for the Law Enforcement Bureau at CCHR, Sapna V. Raj. “Housing providers, including condo boards, supers, landlords and brokers, have a legal obligation to follow the NYC Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination and harassment based on national origin, immigration status, race or any other protected category. We encourage anyone who is experiencing discrimination or harassment to report it to the Commission by calling 718-722-3131.”
Aggrieved tenants and condo owners can still file their own complaints with CCHR.