Landlord Told Woman No African Americans in His Rentals

A woman from Springfield Township filed papers in court on Tuesday saying that her landlord texted her: “I told you I want you to leave, I won’t rent to African Americans again,” and that he would “rather put a white family in the unit.”

In January, Sergey Briskman and Briskman Real Estate started the process of evicting Dermisha Pickett.

After an inspection, Fanon Rucker, Pickett’s lawyer, told him that he needed to fix some things on the property on Daly Road. Pickett has a Section 8 voucher, and all of the places that rent to people with vouchers are inspected by the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority.

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Rucker showed screenshots of what he said were text messages between disabled Pickett and Briskman.

The text message said, “The inspection will fail because I won’t fix anything or do anything until you leave.” “I’ll never rent to black people again.”

Rucker said that Pickett was having trouble finding a new place to live with her voucher, and she told Briskman this.

Another text said, “I have nothing against you. I’d just rather put a white family in this unit. You didn’t do anything wrong. I just don’t want a family of color here. Maybe you could try going to a shelter.”

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What Did the Text Message Say?

Landlord Told Woman No African Americans in His Rentals

Rucker also showed Pickett a text message that he said Briskman had sent to Pickett.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so crazy.

The message said, “I want my keys, and I want you out of the unit.” “I’m trying to sell the house, and the last thing I want is for any African Americans to move in.”

Rucker wrote in a court document that this case could be “the most outrageous, egregious, and obviously racist and illegal statement this court has ever seen.”

He said that the decision to kick them out was “solely” based on their race, which is against both state and federal law. Since 2014, Pickett has lived in the same house without any problems. This was before the previous owner lost the house to foreclosure and Briskman bought it in 2020.

He said that Pickett has never been late with a rent payment.

This week, Pickett and Rucker filed a counterclaim in Hamilton County Municipal Court against the eviction. The eviction hearing is set for Friday, but Rucker wants the case to be moved to Common Pleas Court.

In the counterclaim, Briskman is accused of being unfair, breaking the Federal Housing Act, and causing emotional distress on purpose. The claim asks the court to stop the eviction, order Briskman to sign a lease with Pickett and give Pickett and Briskman damages of at least $50,000.

Rucker said that his client has been trying to move for months in order to get away from trouble. She just found a new place to live and started moving this week, but Rucker said he wanted to give her as many options as possible.

The Enquirer tried to get in touch with both Briskman and the two lawyers listed as his lawyers in court documents. As of Thursday, none of them had answered the emails or voicemails I sent them on Wednesday.

Rucker told the Enquirer that Americans have the right to think whatever they want about people of different races, but when it comes to renting, “what we can’t do by law is act on those hostile, racist thoughts.”

Rucker said that Briskman told other people this week that someone was pretending to be him, which he called “asinine.”

Rucker said, “I’ve done this for about 25 or 26 years.” “I can’t think of a case I’ve worked on where there was more clear evidence of discrimination.”

Because Briskman filed a counterclaim, the case to evict him was moved to the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas.

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