New York bill would require real estate brokers and salespeople to be trained in preventing housing bias | Jackson Lewis CP

After a three-year investigation by press day in alleged unequal treatment of minority homebuyers in Long Island, New York has announced a draft regulation to combat discrimination in housing that would impose certain mandates on the real estate sector.

The proposed settlement would require real estate brokers to provide prospective buyers, renters, sellers and landlords with information about the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the New York State Human Rights Act. The proposed settlement would also require real estate brokers to post a notice containing human rights law protections, with information on how consumers can file complaints.

Fair Housing Act

FHA (42 USC 3601 et seq., also known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968) prohibits discrimination by rental landlords, property managers, and landlords in all aspects of housing, including selling, renting, advertising, and financing housing.

As amended in 1988, the FHA prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status, and national origin.

Although FHA applies to most homes, limited FHA exemptions include:

  • A dwelling with four rental units or less and in which the owner occupies one of the units (referred to as the “Mrs. Murphy” exemption);
  • A single-family home sold or rented without the help of a real estate broker, as long as the owner owns no more than three homes;
  • Housing owned by a religious organization, for non-commercial use, may be limited to members of that religion, so long as membership is not limited by race, color or nationality;
  • Housing owned by a private organization or club, for non-commercial use, may be limited to members of that club, so long as membership is not limited by race, color or nationality; and
  • Housing qualified as “housing for the elderly”.

Even if one of these exemptions applies, under the FHA there is no exemption for discriminatory housing advertising.

Additionally, if the FHA does not apply to a specific property, there is likely a local or state fair housing law that prohibits discrimination.

New York Bill to Address FHA Violations

New York’s proposed regulations would require real estate brokers and every licensed professional under their supervision to provide prospective buyers, tenants, sellers and landlords with fair information about New State housing and human rights law. York. In addition, the regulations would require video and audio recording of training sessions on fair housing and discrimination in the sale or rental of real estate, as well as a one-year retention requirement.

The proposed settlement would also require real estate brokers to post a notice containing human rights law protections, with information on how consumers can file complaints. The notice must be displayed during all real estate visits made by a real estate professional.

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While New York’s proposed regulations are pending, businesses and individuals can take proactive steps to address housing discrimination by educating themselves about FHA requirements and training their employees on FHA requirements and to the fight against discrimination and harassment.

Kristan F. Talley