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.
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.
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.
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.
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 resolved over 350 cases of source of income discrimination in the past two years. Here are a few examples.
Please attend The City Human Rights Law and Discrimination in Housing course at Fordham University 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: 45 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10023
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.