Fair Housing Laws

What Does Fair Housing Mean?

The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that requires landlords to treat all of their tenants equally. When landlords do not provide equal treatment to their tenants, this is called "housing discrimination." 

Examples of housing discrimination may include: 

  • Giving one applicant for housing priority over others
  • Refusing to make repairs for certain tenants
  • Refusing to rent to certain types of people
  • Telling someone that housing is unavailable, when this is not true
  • Requiring higher rents or different lease conditions for the same accommodations
  • Denying certain tenants access to services or facilities

In New York State, it is illegal for a landlord to treat someone differently or refuse to rent to a tenant because of their:

  • Race and/or ethnicity
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability (including mental health conditions)
  • Familial status (such as whether or not a tenant is married or has children)
  • Source of income – e.g. “No Section 8”

Source of Income Discrimination

Under New York State Law, it is illegal to refuse to rent to someone because of their (lawful) source of income. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common forms of housing discrimination that persists today. Some examples of lawful sources of income that can be used to pay rent include: 

  • Section 8 vouchers
  • DSS (Department of Social Services) assistance
  • HUD-VASH (for veterans)
  • Social Security
  • Child support
  • Alimony