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Fair Housing & Mortgage Counseling

The NYC Commission on Human Rights enforces the City’s Fair Housing laws, protecting individuals from discrimination in housing based on the protected classes under the Human Rights Law. Fair Housing means that each New Yorker has a right to live wherever they choose and be treated according to the same rules as everyone else. Fair Housing laws promote equal opportunity and prohibit discriminatory practices that can unfairly limit a person’s housing choice. The Commission also provides mortgage counseling and is a HUD-certified agency. For more information on scheduling or attending a workshop, receiving mortgage counseling, or filing a complaint with the Commission, please call 311 or (212) NEW-YORK.

The Commission Provides:

  • Fair Housing training for housing providers and NYC residents
  • Pre-complaint interventions and resolutions of filed housing complaints
  • Investigations of unlawful real estate practices
  • Technical assistance as part of the Citywide Task Force on Housing Court
  • Mortgage counseling and community  education

Fair Housing Practices

Unlawful discriminatory practices in housing based on the protected classes under the law include:

  • Refusing to sell or rent housing
  • Misrepresenting the availability of housing
  • Setting different terms, conditions, or privileges for the sale or rental of housing
  • Providing different housing services or facilities
  • Posting discriminatory advertising or marketing that indicates a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on a protected class
  • Refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability
  • Steering a potential home buyer or renter to or away from a particular neighborhood; Pressuring, for profit, homeowners to sell by exploiting ethnic, racial, or other demographic changes (blockbusting)
  • Threatening, coercing, or intimidating individuals because they exercise their fair housing rights or assist others

The Human Rights Law prohibits discriminatory lending or credit practices by banks, mortgage brokers, finance company subsidiaries, and other lenders. Unlawful lending practices include:

  • Refusing to make a mortgage or loan to a qualified applicant
  • Refusing to provide loan information, such as preferred rates
  • Imposing different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
  • Discriminating in appraising properties
  • Denying conventional mortgages in certain communities (redlining)

The City Human Rights Law protects residents and applicants of most types of housing in New York City against discrimination. An individual is covered under the Law if he or she resides in:

  • Privately-owned housing
  • Public or government-subsidized housing
  • Cooperatives and condominiums
  • Residential hotels (transient hotels are considered places of public accommodation)
  • Two-family, owner-occupied housing, if the owner makes the rental apartment available through advertising or public notice
Section 8 Government Assistance

The City Human Rights Law protects Section 8 and other government assistance recipients from housing discrimination based on one’s lawful source of income. If an apartment building has six or more units, the landlord cannot:

  • Refuse to rent an apartment to you because you receive federal, state, or local public or housing assistance, including Section 8
  • Refuse to accept federal, state, or local or housing assistance, including Section 8, towards the payment of rent, whether or not you are a new or existing tenant
  • Print advertisements, including online or newspaper advertisements, and billboards that indicate a refusal to accept programs
  • Refuse to rent an apartment to you based of other forms of lawful income (disability, alimony, veterans)

Regardless of the number of units in the building, the landlord must accept your rental subsidy if:

  • Your apartment is rent controlled and you lived there when the new law took effect in March 2008; or
  • The landlord owns another building in NYC that has six or more units.

The Law exempts rooms in an owner-occupied dwelling, such as a person’s apartment or rooming house. It also permits housing limited to the elderly or disabled under certain government restrictions, as well as gender-specific dormitory-type residences. For more information, visit the joint Commission website (with HPD) www.nyc.gov/fairhousingnyc.


Mortgage Counseling and Predatory Loan Prevention

The Commission is charged under the NYC Human Rights Law to investigate and enforce discriminatory lending practices. These practices include predatory lending and discriminatory credit activities. Since their first major report on discriminatory lending practices in black communities in 1966, the Commission has provided services to combat discriminatory lending.

The Commission has found that disproportionate subprime and predatory loans emerge as a significant factor in many black and Hispanic communities and elderly households. These loans raise fair housing concerns of targeting higher cost credit to legally protected classes, hinder sustained neighborhood redevelopment, and contribute to the dislocation of families and destabilization of communities. To combat these practices:

  • The Commission is a HUD-certified housing counseling agency and has trained counselors available at the Commission’s borough-based Community Service Centers.
  • The Commission’s counselors assist individuals who are behind in their mortgage payments and are in jeopardy of losing their home. They also work with banks and other lenders to resolve the homeowner’s crisis.
  • The Commission maintains an aggressive education campaign to complement its counseling services.