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Brooklyn Apartment with $5,750 Monthly Rent Requires a Smell Test



Last week, an intriguing real estate listing briefly appeared in Brooklyn, capturing attention by describing two spacious, sun-drenched, full-floor apartments in a charming brick townhome in Fort Greene. The listing highlighted the extraordinary outdoor spaces and period details of the property as reported by The New York Times. It made mention of a distinctive feature: the requirement for tenants to refrain from cooking meat or fish inside the building.

A meatless walk-up apartment is certainly unusual in a city where renters are willing to pay exorbitant prices for unconventional living arrangements. However, during a by-appointment-only open house on Sunday, a steady stream of prospective tenants, including some non-vegetarians, showed interest in the apartments, indicating that the meat-free rule was not an automatic deal-breaker. The apartments, both one-bedrooms, are currently renting for $4,500 and $5,750, respectively.

According to the broker, Andrea Kelly, the restriction excludes vegetarians. Still, it applies to cooking meat and fish in order to prevent the smell from permeating the upper floors. The owner of the building, Michal Arieh Lerer, who is described as a “wonderful vegan landlord,” declined to speak to the press, while Ms Kelly and Douglas Elliman, her employer, chose not to comment. However, Michal Lerer’s ex-husband, Motti Lerer, who co-owns the property and is also vegan, emphasised that the policy was not discriminatory but rather a means of ensuring a harmonious living environment for all residents.

The legality of such a restriction comes into question. While New York City’s Human Rights Law prohibits landlords from considering certain characteristics when renting an apartment, such as age, race, family status, job, source of income, and sexual orientation, fondness for meat is not included. This legal framework, which allows restrictions unless specifically forbidden, also permits landlords to refuse rental to smokers, as they are not recognised as a protected class either.

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Lucas A. Ferrara, an adjunct professor at New York Law School, explained that a potential tenant could potentially challenge the meat ban if they could demonstrate a medical condition that necessitated a “reasonable accommodation” from the landlord. However, the restriction would generally be considered permissible without such an exception.

The initial listing on, which mentioned the meat policy, was taken down a day after its posting. However, Douglas Elliman continues to advertise the apartments on their website, now without any reference to the meat rule. The listings do mention that cats are welcome on a case-by-case basis.

Unaware of the meat rule, one curious couple initially hesitated upon learning about it. However, upon further consideration, they realised that they often ordered food and found the terrace appealing. Ultimately, they could not view the apartments as they lacked an appointment. After discussing it further, they concluded that this might be for the best, with the woman, Tessa Ruben, expressing more concern about the presence of someone upstairs monitoring compliance with the rule than the rule itself.

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Photo: Facebook / @The New York Times

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