A new online complaint portal is now available for New York State residents to report if they suspect that they have been subject to discrimination based on their source of income when trying to buy or rent housing.
Attorney General Letitia James announced the portal last month. Her office explained that legislation that took effect in April 2019 makes it illegal under the New York State Human Rights Law to deny someone housing based on the type of lawful income they receive, and the law applies to nearly all types of housing. Among the sources of income protected under the law are public assistance, Section 8 vouchers, child support, alimony, foster care subsidies and Social Security.
“Every New Yorker deserves safe and decent housing, regardless of their lawful source of income,” she said. “Across New York State, landlords, rental agents, and brokers continue to post ads specifying that they will not accept vouchers or housing assistance — an act that is blatantly unlawful and discriminatory. This new portal will allow New Yorkers to report these instances of discrimination and help my office hold bad actors accountable.”
Anyone attempting to rent or sell a housing unit can be accountable for discrimination, according to the attorney general’s office, including owners, management companies, brokers, real estate agents, co-op boards, and condo associations.
The only exceptions to the law are one- or two-family homes occupied by the owner; room rentals in properties for individuals of the same sex, such as college dormitories or boarding houses where all residents are of the same sex; and housing intended for seniors.
Listings or advertisements break the law if they use phrases such as “no section 8/no DSS/no SSI,” “no payment programs,” or “apartment has not yet been approved for any vouchers/subsidies,” according to the attorney general’s office. It is also illegal to provide different terms or privileges to residents based on their sources of income, such as a rooftop patio that is available to all residents except those with a voucher.
The complaint portal can be found at ag.ny.gov/source-income-discrimination.