Sex, Gender, and LGBT-Based Discrimination in New York Apartments

HomeLawsUSANYSex, Gender, and LGBT-Based Discrimination in New York Apartments

New York law (and federal law) protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex or gender. This covers everything from offering lower rent for sexual favors to advertising men or women only apartments. New York also has strong protections against LGBT discrimination.

Sexism

New York law and federal law protect tenants from discrimination based on their sex (e.g., male, female). This protects tenants from most kinds of sexist acts, including pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain sex in the neighborhood, denying a loan based on their sex, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on sex, retaliating (e.g., raising the rent, evicting, cutting off services, or harassing a tenant) against a tenant for reporting a problem, refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their sex, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their sex, asking about a tenant’s sex, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s sex, advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their sex, denying an apartment or application based on their sex, and falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s sex. Most commonly, setting different guest policies for women, advertising an apartment for men or women only, and offering a reduction in rent for sexual favors all constitute discrimination based on one’s sex or gender. Typically, apartments with shared common areas (e.g., apartment with roommates or suitemates) are exempt. N.Y. Exec. Law 296-a , N.Y. Exec. Law 296 , N.Y. Exec. Law Sec. 296 .

Additionally, New York protects tenants from discrimination based on their marital status. A landlord who only accepts single people violates the state’s anti-discrimination laws. The protections also apply inversely – if a landlord treats married tenants as “less risky” and offers them a lower rent, it constitutes discrimination. N.Y. Exec. Law 296-a , N.Y. Exec. Law 296 , N.Y. Exec. Law Sec. 296 .

Sexual Orientation

New York explicitly protects tenants from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. This means that denying housing, charging different rent, or otherwise treating such tenants differently because they are gay or lesbian is illegal under this state’s laws. The full list of prohibited actions include refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their sexual orientation, pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain sexual orientation in the neighborhood, advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their sexual orientation, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s sexual orientation, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on sexual orientation, retaliating (e.g., raising the rent, evicting, cutting off services, or harassing a tenant) against a tenant for reporting a problem, denying a loan based on their sexual orientation, asking about a tenant’s sexual orientation, falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s sexual orientation, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their sexual orientation, and denying an apartment or application based on their sexual orientation. N.Y. Exec. Law 296-a , N.Y. Exec. Law 296 , N.Y. Exec. Law Sec. 296 .

Gender Identity

New York explicitly protects tenants from discrimination based on their gender identity. Thus, if a tenant is transitioning or identifies as a different gender than thier biological sex, a landlord cannot treat them differently for those reasons. Specifically, discrimination includes advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their gender identity, refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their gender identity, denying a loan based on their gender identity, falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s gender identity, pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain gender identity in the neighborhood, retaliating (e.g., raising the rent, evicting, cutting off services, or harassing a tenant) against a tenant for reporting a problem, asking about a tenant’s gender identity, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their gender identity, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s gender identity, denying an apartment or application based on their gender identity, and charging different rent or offering different amenities based on gender identity. N.Y. Exec. Law 296-a , N.Y. Exec. Law 296 , N.Y. Exec. Law Sec. 296 See here for more information about transgender protection .

Sex to Pay Rent

Federal and state law protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex. Offers or propositions to pay rent (or a part of the rent) through sexual favors qualify as a form of sexual discrimination. PTLA.

Single-Sex Dorm Exception

New York has an exception to the rule against discriminating by sex or gender for single-sex dorms. This does not apply to private or other types of housing. N.Y. Exec. Law 296 .

Enforcement

Tenants may report sexual discrimination to the federal government directly. They also have the option in New York to report it to state authorities. Tenants may choose to report the problem to both authorities. If the issue is LGBT-related, it’s better for tenants to report the problem to the state if they have strong protections for that LGBT issue and to the federal government if they don’t.

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the federal government? The most recent year we have data is from 2016. In 2016, 63.4% (60.4% from New York) of discrimination cases were resolved in the year they were filed. 123 out of the 579 discrimination complaints from New York were about sexist discriminatory practices. Landlords that violate the federal Fair Housing Act can face civil penalties up to $16,000 for a first violation and $65,000 for future violations (each act of discrimination is a separate violation). In cases where the Justice Department is involved, civil penalties may rise to $100,000 per violation and federal courts can add additional damages. Landlords should also keep in mind the time and costs involved in defending against an action by the federal government. About 36% of complaints end up with a charge or settlement, based on 2016 data. Data.gov

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the authorities of New York or a local government? They may ask the tenant for information to help bring the case, including any evidence (e.g., emails and pictures). If the government finds there’s sufficient information between the tenant’s complaint (as well as complaints from other tenants), the landlord may be charged and taken to court to defend themselves. Landlords will likely receive fines if they lose. The amount of the fines will be determined in part by the severity of the issue. Fines increase significantly for repeat offenders. In addition, landlords may serve prison time for severe cases, as New York considers discriminatory practices a criminal act in some cases. It can be a misdemeanor or a felony. N.Y. Exec. Law 296-a , N.Y. Exec. Law Sec. 299 .

Reporting a Violation

Tenants may report violations of federal laws (i.e., discrimination against children and families) through the HUD website – it can be done online or via phone. Tenants can report issues to their state government by looking at the state website. A google search for “report fair housing violation in New York” will likely provide applicable information. In either case, tenants may be able to call the number on the page to ask whether their situation legally qualifies as rental discrimination.

Retaliation by the Landlord

Federal law (the https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaintFair Housing Act ) makes it illegal for landlords to harass a tenant in retaliation for reporting a problem. Examples of such harassment may include raising the rent or threatening to evict the tenant. Each such attempt is an additional violation. These protections do not apply if the tenant complained about something that they don’t have right to, so tenants should know whether it’s a violation. 71 such cases were filed with the federal government from in last year we have data (2016). Data.gov. Dept of Housing and Urban Development.

By |September 12th, 2018|NY|