What You Need to Know About New York’s Fair Housing Act

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The New York Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for landlords, real estate agents, loan officers, or banks to deny housing, housing information, mortgages, or mortgage information to anyone based on their membership status in one or more protected classes such as sexual orientation, race, national origin, and source of income.  
The Civil Rights movement was propelled, among a host of other critical social justice issues, by the country’s housing discrimination. The pushback and outrage against discriminatory housing practices like redlining and blockbusting were finally answered by Federal action in the form of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. 
The FHA was designed to protect all homebuyers and renters across the country and receives modern-day updates to be more inclusive. Unfortunately, many folks are still being denied housing for discriminatory reasons. That’s why Jerry, the super app for homeowners, renters, and car owners, has created this guide on New York Fair Housing. Here you will learn to whom this law applied and what to do if it ever happens to you. 
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Does New York have a Fair Housing Act?

New York does have a Fair Housing Act. As an enacted Federal Civil Rights Law, each of the 50 states must protect homebuyers and renters from discrimination by landlords, lenders, and sellers. 
In New York, it is an illegal act for landlords, lenders, sellers, banks, or similar institutions to use a person’s or people’s race, creed, color, national origin, citizenship status, sex, age, disability, marital status, military status, family status, sexual orientation, gender identity, source of income, or status as a domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault victim to do any of the following:
  • Refuse to sell, rent, or lease available housing
  • Misrepresent housing availability
  • Adhere to different terms, conditions, or privileges for a sale, rental, or lease of available housing to different groups of people
  • Advertise a preference, limitation, or discrimination for or against a certain group 
  • Refuse to provide reasonable accommodation for anyone living with a disability 
  • Pressure or otherwise persuade homeowners into selling their homes based on fear-mongering that exploits neighborhood demographic changes—also known as blockbusting 
  • Refuse a mortgage loan or mortgage information to a qualified applicant—also known as redlining 
  • Adhere to different terms or conditions for loan and credit card applications
It is important to note that a few of the protected classes have exceptions for housing discrimination in New York:
  • Sex discrimination is permitted in single-sex housing like college dormitories
  • Age discrimination is permitted in senior living facilities or for senior (ages 65 and up) housing discounts
  • Disability discrimination is permitted for housing discounts for people with disabilities
  • Creed discrimination may be permitted in certain situations if the sale or rental of housing under a religious institution is limited to a member of that religion to further its religious principles

Accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act of New York requires housing providers to make reasonable modifications and reasonable accommodations for people who need them. While laid out in New York’s state law, these accessibility requirements are also federally mandated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Under New York State’s Accessibility Requirements, qualifying housing includes “covered multifamily dwellings”, and structural changes to these are considered reasonable modifications. These changes can include the design and/or construction of:
  • At least one dwelling entrance and route to the entrance are accessible and usable
  • Public and common use areas that are accessible and usable
  • Passageways and doorways that are wide enough for people in wheelchairs to fit through and maneuver around
  • Accessible environmental controls like light switches, thermostats, and electrical outlets
  • Reinforced bathroom walls for grab bars
  • Large enough kitchens and bathrooms to accommodate people in wheelchairs
Reasonable accommodations include changes to policy, program, or services, including:
  • Adjusted rent payment schedules to accommodate the income schedule a person receives 
  • Adjusted housing applications that fit a person’s needs 
  • Allowance of service animals in a no-pet-policy dwelling
If you’ve experienced housing denial or hit barriers based solely on your membership status in a protected class, you can file an official complaint against the offending landlord, lender, seller, real estate agent, or bank. 

How to file a fair housing complaint in New York

If you’ve experienced housing denial or hit barriers based solely on your membership status in a protected class, you can file an official complaint against the offending landlord, lender, seller, real estate agent, or bank. 
This discrimination may not always be obvious—maybe the realtor told you a higher sale price than advertised or to look at a different neighborhood. If you think you've been made a target of housing discrimination, you can file a fair housing complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights by:
  • Calling (toll free) 888-392-3633 or 718-741-8300
  • Emailing InfoBronx@dhr.ny.gov
  • Filing an online complaint on their website 
You can create a stronger argument in your favor by gathering all relevant information to your complaint. This includes the exact date of events and the names and phone numbers of whom you are charging. Remember that you must file a complaint within one year of the incident.

State agency vs. local offices

Filing a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights is an effective way to handle discriminatory housing practices in New York. However, you may need to go through different governing bodies depending on your location and situation.
BronxNew York State Divison of Human Rights
AlbanyCivil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office
New York CityLaw Enforcement Bureau of the New York City Commission on Human Rights
Washington D.C.U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Washington D.C.U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
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How to save money on home and renters insurance in New York 

Fair housing is a national right; unfortunately, many still struggle to get it. Discriminatory practices, rent price hikes, and everything else happening in our world today make securing safe and decent housing a challenge when it should be a given. 
That’s why the super app for homeowners, renters, and car owners, Jerry, wants to help you put some money back in your pocket by saving on your home and renters insurance in New York. 
Not sure what type of home insurance you need? Let Jerry make your decision easy.
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If you need to report a landlord in New York, call the New York State Division of Human Rights at 888-392-3644, email InfoBronx@dhr.ny.gov, or file an online complaint on their website.

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