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Know Your Rights When Apartment Hunting

If a broker or landlord refuses to rent or show you an apartment because you use government assistance to pay rent, that is source of income discrimination and it’s against the law.

By law, a landlord cannot refuse to rent you an apartment because you are paying with programs such as:

  • CityFHEPS
  • Section 8
  • Cash Assistance

A landlord who owns a building in NYC with at least three (3) units, or a broker that works with such a landlord, must screen and consider all potential tenants in the same way. It is illegal to use government assistance as a reason to deny someone an apartment.

How Do I Recognize Source of Income Discrimination?

Listen for phrases like:

  • "We don’t take programs"
  • "We’d prefer another source"
  • "Don’t you have any other income?"
  • "Ok, that program is fine, but can someone else guarantee the rent?"
  • "We will take that program, but you still have to pay first month’s rent, security deposit, and a broker’s fee in cash upfront."

Watch out for landlords or brokers who:

  • Insist on a cash security deposit or ask for cash or someone else to guarantee the rent in addition to the security voucher
  • Insist on a minimum income or proof of employment when the voucher covers the full rental amount
  • Won’t show you any apartments or fail to show all available units within your voucher level
  • Won’t provide an application or insist on higher application fees than advertised
  • Insist on a particular credit score when the voucher covers the full rental amount
  • Require cash or a credit check in order to view or hold the apartment

Have more questions about source of income discrimination?

To make a Source of Income Discrimination complaint, please contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights (CCHR). If you wish to file a complaint against a landlord or broker for discrimination, CCHR can assist you and take appropriate action where applicable. You can contact them at (212) 416-0197. You can also visit their website:

If you need help finding an apartment, please contact the HRA rental assistance hotline at (718) 557-1399 and Rental Assistance Center at (929) 221-0043.

Also, you can contact the DSS Office of Civil Justice for help with a landlord-tenant dispute at their website: You may also call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline.