The NYC Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in housing based on your actual or perceived race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender (including gender identity and sexual harassment), sexual orientation, disability, marital status, partnership status, lawful occupation, family status, or lawful source of income. The Law also prohibits retaliation.

It is illegal to be denied a housing opportunity because of your actual or perceived age. Most often discrimination based on age affects younger and older adults, but the City’s Human Rights Law protects anyone regardless of age from being subject to different standards or considerations because of their age.

[Note: landlords do not have to enter into contracts with unemancipated minors and may have a minimum age for senior citizen housing (usually 55).]

Discrimination means being treated differently by any person with the authority to rent, sell, or deal with applicants or residents of a housing accommodation. Age discrimination may result from a policy or practice that seeks to bar those perceived as being more likely to vandalize or create noise, or fall ill, or lose a job. You should not be denied housing because of someone else’s perception or belief of what people your age might do.

These behaviors, policies, or practices could be evidence of discrimination: 

  • Being told by the sales agent at the open house that he is “surprised” by your youthful appearance. Later you are told the house is sold. The next weekend, an open house is held at the same address.
  • Being asked by the agent about how long you have until retirement after he sees your gray hair. You never hear from the agent after the appointment.
  • Advertising a preference for a “mature” person; or,
  • Being told that the owner does not rent to students, citing noise and subsequent complaints from other tenants.
The Law also prohibits retaliation if you file a discrimination complaint against someone, or act as a witness for someone else who files a complaint.

If you believe you are the victim of housing discrimination, contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights at 212-306-7450 or visit 311 online.

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A website of the NYC Commission on Human Rights and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development

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