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.

Creed refers to a set of moral or ethical beliefs and the practices and observances associated with those beliefs. Although creed includes traditional religious beliefs, it also incorporates belief systems that may not be expressed by an organized religious group. 

Discrimination means being treated differently by any person with the authority to rent, sell, or deal with applicants or residents of a housing accommodation. Discrimination based on creed includes the perception of those beliefs by others.  You do not need to support a belief to be discriminated against because of it.  The negative perception of others may be based on your dress, jewelry, a book you carry, or a symbol on a tee shirt. The City’s Human Rights Law states that your creed should not bar you from housing opportunities.*

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

  • Advertising on Craigslist that the owners prefer “Christians”; 
  • Being told by the real estate agent that you will be happier in a nearby area because “the Jews all live there” after he took notice of your last name;
  • Being told by the bank officer that you would have a better chance of getting a mortgage loan if you did not dress like a Muslim; or,
  • Being denied services in your apartment after the landlord saw you with a bible published by a group he described as a ‘cult’.  

*The law contains an exemption for housing owned by and designated for a religious group that is used for noncommercial purposes – a seminary, for example.

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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