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Landlord/Tenant Law Supreme Court Opinion

by Zigadto, Janet


SC20574 - Lopez v. William Raveis Real Estate, Inc. ("In this appeal, we consider the standard for determining whether a statement made in connection with the sale or rental of a dwelling violates General Statutes § 46a-64c (a) (3) by indicating a 'preference, limitation, or discrimination,' or an 'intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination,' on the basis of an individual's 'lawful source of income . . . .' The plaintiff, Carmen Lopez, appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the defendants, William Raveis Real Estate, Inc. (Raveis), Sarah Henry, a licensed real estate salesperson, and Anthony Vaccaro and Eve Vaccaro, in this action alleging housing discrimination in violation of § 46a-64c (a). On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court, in considering whether Henry violated § 46a-64c (a) (3) by making certain statements in the course of renting an apartment owned by the Vaccaros, improperly considered whether Henry had the subjective intent to discriminate on the basis of lawful source of income when she made those statements. The plaintiff specifically contends that she is entitled to judgment in her favor because (1) Henry's statements were facially discriminatory, rendering her subjective intent irrelevant as a matter of law, and (2) even if we were to conclude that Henry's statements were not facially discriminatory, the trial court nevertheless incorrectly determined that the statements, considered in context, did not convey an impermissible preference. We conclude that, although the trial court applied the proper legal standard in considering the plaintiff's claims under § 46a-64c (a) (3), its ultimate conclusion as to liability on the facts of this case was clearly erroneous with respect to Henry. Accordingly, we reverse in part the judgment of the trial court.")