You have the right to be free from discrimination when looking for housing. There are laws to protect you:
Federal Fair Housing Act: It makes it illegal for housing providers (like owners, real estate agents, and lenders) to discriminate based on race, familial status (having kids under 18), color, national origin, religion, disability (physical or mental), or sex.
New York State Human Rights Law: It covers all those things and also protects against discrimination based on creed, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, military status, or lawful source of income (like public assistance, social security, etc.).
Local Laws: Many local governments have extra protections. In New York City, the Human Rights Law also covers gender, citizenship status, partnership status, or lawful occupation.
Most housing is included in these laws, but there are a few exceptions:
- One- or two-family owner-occupied buildings
- Room rentals in housing for individuals of the same sex
- Housing intended for people over the age of 55 or over the age of 62
- Room rentals in owner-occupied housing
These laws protect you from various forms of housing discrimination, such as refusing to rent or sell to you, making housing unavailable, offering different terms or services, discriminatory advertisements, unfair loan terms, and harassment.
If you have a disability, the landlord must make reasonable modifications to accommodate your needs, and they should adjust policies or services to help you use the housing.
If discrimination occurs, steps can be taken to fix the situation, including policy changes, providing housing or loans, monetary compensation, and fines.
If you believe you've faced housing discrimination, you can reach out to agencies for help, like the New York State Office of the Attorney General, New York State Division of Human Rights, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the New York City Human Rights Commission. They can assist you in addressing the issue and your rights.
Last Reviewed: November 5, 2023