An Ohio mother claims her landlord evicted her because he didn't want any African Americans in his unit and instead preferred for a white family to live there.
In a counterclaim filed on Tuesday (March 28), Dermisha Pickett, a mother of six children, accused her landlord, Sergey Briskman, of violating housing laws through discrimination and intentional infliction, citing that he began the eviction process after telling her: “I just don't want any African Americans in this unit at this time,” per Buzzfeed News.
Briskman originally filed for her eviction on March 9. According to his eviction complaint, Pickett was notified to move out within 30 days of January 12 due to her rental agreement expiring.
However, Pickett denies that the agreement expired or that she was notified to vacate the unit. According to her counterclaim, Briskman texted her on February 10 that he wanted her to move out because of her race.
“I will not rent [to] African Americans again. I don't know why the previous landlord did,” text messages attached to the counterclaim read.
Pickett says she's lived in the Section 8 apartment unit since 2014 and didn't experience any issues until 2021, a year after Briskman bought the property. In another text, the landlord allegedly told Pickett: “It’s nothing against you I will just rather put a white family in this unit. You did nothing wrong I just don’t want a family of color here maybe you should try to go to a shelter."
In her counterclaim, Pickett said she was a "model tenant" who always fulfilled rental payments on time. Briskman seemingly corroborated this in further messages.
“Do you know when you will be giving me the keys time is running out. I will talk to the other landlord and tell them you’re a good tenant and pay the rent on time and always keep a clean house,” Briskman said, per the texts. “I just don’t want you here at this property or have you looked into trying to get into a shelter for you and your family. I really don’t want to call the police to get your things out.”
Briskman allegedly left Pickett a voicemail on March 13 saying he needed her to move out because he was getting ready to sell the home and because she was Black.
“I’ve been trying to contact you about my keys, I want you out of this unit, I told you already I’m trying to sell the house and I really don't want any African Americans in the house,” Briskman said in the voicemail, according to the counterclaim. “I need you to hurry and give me my key. You call me at this number, you call me at my other number, but either way I need my key.”
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