A: Federal, New York State and local laws protect people from discrimination and ensure that all people have equal access to housing opportunities. The federal Fair Housing Act and New York State Human Rights Law make it illegal for housing providers and lenders to discriminate. Housing discrimination also includes the refusal to make reasonable accommodations or modifications for people with disabilities, or failure to build certain multi-family housing so that it is accessible to people with disabilities.
A: The federal Fair Housing Act states that a person may not be discriminated against because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or familial status (including families with minor children, pregnant women and adults in the process of obtaining custody of a minor child). In addition, the New York State Human Rights Law provides additional protection based on: age, marital status, military status and sexual orientation.
Source of Income is considered a protected class in some jurisdictions including New York City, Buffalo, Hamburg, West Seneca and Yonkers, as well as Nassau, Westchester and Suffolk counties.
A: In New York State, almost all types of housing with three or more units are covered. Including but not limited to: condominiums, apartment buildings, assisted living projects, public housing authorities, HOPE VI projects, transitional housing, and SROs (single room occupancy units) designed for more than overnight stays, homeless shelters used as a residence, cooperatives, and hospices.
There are three main exceptions:
A: Everyone who provides housing or lending for housing, including:
A: In general, properties that were built after 1991 with four or more units and that have an elevator are required to be built in a manner that is accessible to persons with disabilities including: having an accessible entrance and exit route; usable public and common areas; doors and hallways that are wide enough for wheelchairs; providing an accessible route through the unit; placement of environmental controls (light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats) in a manner to be accessible, providing reinforced bathroom walls for easy installation of grab bars, and kitchen and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.
Detached single family homes that are funded in any way by federal, state, or local funds may also be required to be accessible under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the ADA, which have additional requirements.
For additional information, review the Supplement to Notice of Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines: Questions and Answers about the Guidelines
A: A reasonable accommodation is a change in rules, policies, or practices that may be necessary to enable a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling, such as assistance in filling out a rental application or allowing a unit transfer. The Fair Housing Act requires that housing providers must "make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling." One example of a common reasonable accommodation is the waiver of a "no pets" policy for an individual with a disability who requires an animal because of his / her disability. There are narrow and specific reasons that a request for reasonable accommodation may be denied.
A: If housing was built prior to 1991, landlords must allow residents with disabilities who wish to renovate or change their units to do so. However, residents must pay for any modifications and may also be required to pay for removing the modification and restoring the unit to its original state.
A: The fair housing laws apply to the sale or rental of housing and also to mortgage and insurance lending. Some examples include:
Refuse to rent, sell or negotiate for housing or lending services.
Discriminate in terms, conditions, privileges or services.
Make print or publish discriminatory statements or advertisements.
Make false representations about the availability of dwellings.
Interfere, coerce, or intimidate:
Refuse to make reasonable accommodations for a person with a disability.
Refuse to make a reasonable modification to a dwelling or common area if necessary for a person with disability to use the housing.
Fail to design and construct multi-family housing (post 1991) that is accessible for persons with disabilities.
Discriminate when providing financing.
Deny access to brokerage services.
Discriminate in the provision of homeowner’s insurance.
A: You can file a discrimination complaint with many different government agencies, private fair housing organizations and non-profit fair housing enforcement organizations seeking damages, the housing in question, and other appropriate relief such as a promise from the housing provider not to discriminate. You can also file a complaint on your own.
New York State Division of Human Rights
One Fordham Plaza, 4th Floor
Bronx, New York 10458
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
New York Regional Office of FHEO
26 Federal Plaza, Room 3532
New York, NY 10278-0068