Source of Income Discrimination


What is discrimination based on lawful source of income?

Discrimination based on lawful source of income is the illegal practice by landlords, owners, and real estate brokers of refusing to rent to current or prospective tenants seeking to pay for housing with housing assistance vouchers, subsidies, or other forms of public assistance. It is unlawful for landlords and brokers to publish any advertisements, including online or print, that indicate a refusal to accept these programs, or express a preference for non-voucher holders.

Lawful source of income includes many kinds of subsidies or assistance from federal, state, or local public sources such as Section 8, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), CityFHEPS, and G.I. Bill Housing Allowances, among others.

Source of income discrimination has been illegal in New York City since 2008. Most New York City rental properties are subject to the NYC Human Rights Law's source of income protections, regardless of number of units in the property. (Exceptions apply to small owner-occupied buildings and units that are not publicly advertised.)

Download our multilingual Lawful Source of Income Fact Sheet for a quick overview of the law and how to get help from the Commission.

Image with text: $1,235,000 total damages and penalties obtained for source of income discrimination since 2014

How does the Commission fight discrimination based on lawful source of income?

In recent years, the Commission has significantly increased its efforts to combat source of income discrimination through aggressively investigating and prosecuting landlords and brokers of various sizes citywide who refuse to rent to tenants who pay rent with housing vouchers and other types of housing assistance. The Commission is also obtaining immediate relief from discrimination through emergency interventions, proactively fighting discrimination through testing and investing in public outreach and education. The Commission has had a source of income unit within the Law Enforcement Bureau since 2018, focused on addressing and combating voucher discrimination in housing.

Emergency Interventions

The Commission has created a new mechanism to respond more quickly to urgent source of income discrimination cases. Where someone has faced a denial of housing by a landlord or broker because they use housing assistance vouchers or subsidy, the Commission's Source of Income Unit contacts the landlord or broker to educate them about source of income discrimination. These contacts and interactions can result in that person securing or maintaining housing.

The Commission has resolved hundreds of source of income cases through emergency interventions since 2018, resulting in voucher holders preserving their vouchers, accessing housing, and/or maintaining housing.


  • Since 2018, the Commission has filed 176 cases of discrimination based on lawful source of income against landlords and brokers across the city.
  • Since 2014, the Commission has obtained over $780,000 in damages and penalties for complainants who have faced source of income discrimination.
  • The Commission has successfully negotiated case resolutions in which landlords agree to set aside a certain portion of their holdings specifically for voucher-holding tenants, in addition to other terms of the settlements.


The Commission revitalized its testing program in 2016. Many of the tests conducted in housing discrimination were implemented to root out discriminatory landlords and brokers. To identify source of income discrimination, the Commission often uses many different methods of testing, including matched pair, in-person, telephone, and online testing.

Public Education

The Commission continues its robust public outreach efforts to inform New Yorkers about their housing rights under the NYC Human Rights Law and prevent future acts of discrimination by training landlords and brokers about their obligations.

  • The Commission has held hundreds of workshops and outreach events to educate tenants about their housing rights under the law, including an annual symposium on protections in housing under the NYC Human Rights Law.
  • The Commission collaborates with housing advocates, elected officials, and City agencies, including Neighbors Together, Unlock NYC, Make the Road, New York Legal Assistance Group, WIN-NY, African Services Committee, Urban Justice Center, Legal Services, and sibling NYC agencies to address housing discrimination and inform people of their rights.

How has the Commission won justice for people like me?

The Commission has resolved over 350 cases of source of income discrimination in the past two years. Here are a few examples.

  • As a result of Commission testing, the Commission fined Abeco Management $20,000 for refusing to accept tenants with vouchers. The Commission also ordered the company, which owns 40 buildings, to train all staff on the NYC Human Rights Law and provide the Commission's Fair Housing notice to all tenants.
  • In a settlement with Bronstein Properties, after Bronstein allegedly informed an individual qualified for the HIV/AIDS Services Administration ("HASA") program that housing assistance programs were not accepted. The Company agreed to revise their policies and application materials, post the Commission's "Notice of Rights" posters, set aside 20 apartments, and pay complainant emotional distress damages.
  • A settlement with REM Residential after allegations that REM would not complete paperwork required for Section 8 resulted in damages, the set aside of five apartments for voucher holders, postings, trainings, and emotional distress damages.

As a real estate salesperson or broker, how can I be a partner to fight housing discrimination? 

Please attend The City Human Rights Law and Discrimination in Housing course and earn free 1.5 CE credit for real estate salesperson or broker for real estate license continuing education credit (NYCEM).

Name of Course: The City Human Rights Law and Discrimination in Housing

Course Code: M17293

Description of course: This course offers a brief introduction of the NYC Human Rights Law and addresses in detail specific protections, especially lawful source of income discrimination and protections for people with disabilities. It ends with providing information on potential consequences when the law is violated and offers best practices for brokers.

CE Credits: 1.5 for real estate salesperson or broker for real estate license continuing education credit (NYCEM).

Location: Spector Hall at 22 Reade Street, New York, NY 10007

Dates/Time: April 24, 2024; June 26, 2024 - 3:00 - 4:30pm

RSVP Required: (please indicate the date you are interested in attending)

Share these social media graphics that help identify discrimination

Discriminiation may sound like this: Your credit score must be at least 600
Discriminiation may sound like this: You need a 'working section 8' voucher
Discriminiation may sound like this: We don't accept vouchers

Download: Lawful Source of Income Fact Sheet

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Frequently Asked Questions for Brokers/Agents/Owners re: Lawful Source of Income

Frequently Asked Questions for Landlords re: Lawful Source of Income

Frequently Asked Questions for Tenants re: Lawful Source of Income

What do I do if I experience discrimination based on lawful source of income?

If you experience source of income discrimination, we can help. Report it to the NYC Commission on Human Rights by dialing 311 and asking for "Human Rights," call 212-416-0197, or use our Report Discrimination form.