Housing discrimination continues to block deserving parties from obtaining mortgages, purchasing homes in certain neighborhoods or buildings, and renting reasonably-priced apartments. The New York civil rights lawyers at Manhattan’s Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. have the experience and knowledge you need to make sure your rights are fully protected and that justice is done. Here are some steps you can take if you have been subjected to housing discrimination in New York City.
What Can You Do If You Are a Victim of Housing Discrimination?
Civil rights laws provide several options for seeking redress against parties that may be liable for housing discrimination:
- In New York State, an injured party can file a complaint form with the Civil Rights Bureau in the Office of the Attorney General to request an investigation into discriminatory practices.
- If the discrimination occurred in New York City, an aggrieved party can file a complaint with the Law Enforcement Bureau of the City’s Commission on Human Rights.
- The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides forms and assistance to file administrative complaints that are handled under HUD’s internal procedures.
- A party that has experienced housing discrimination can file a lawsuit for damages in federal or state court.
What Damages Can You Recover If You Prove Housing Discrimination?
If you can prove that you were a victim of housing discrimination, a civil rights agency or a federal or state court might award you damages equal to the higher rent or expenses you paid or incurred as a result of the discrimination, plus an amount to compensate you for emotional distress or psychological injuries.
A rejection of a rental application, in and of itself, is only the first step in proving discrimination. Because of the challenges in establishing that proof, you should contact an experienced housing and civil rights lawyer for assistance with your case. Your lawyer will ask you to provide:
- Copies of all communications between you and the party that discriminated against you;
- A written log of your interactions with that party, including dates and times of meetings and other contacts;
- Copies of any documents you submitted, including rent applications and background checks;
- Contact details for any witnesses that may have observed your interactions with the other party;
- Any information that you might have regarding how other people were treated by that party.
If you believe you have experienced housing discrimination, you should contact a lawyer promptly after your rights have been denied because the time you have to file a claim is strictly limited.
What is Housing Discrimination?
Housing discrimination against individuals because of their race, gender, orientation, disability, or other protected class takes on many forms:
- Refusal to sell or negotiate with an individual, or holding that individual to more stringent standards.
- Harassing a tenant to terminate a lease.
- Claiming that a housing unit has already been sold or rented when no other parties have signed contracts or leases.
- Charging higher rents or security deposits for minority renters.
- Denying financing or insurance to certain classes of purchasers or renters.
- Imposing “no pet” policies to restrict disabled tenants that need service animals.
Which Laws Make Housing Discrimination Illegal?
Housing discrimination is precluded under federal, state, and some local laws.
- The Fair Housing Act became effective as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This Act makes it illegal to discriminate against persons on account of their race, their family status, skin color, national origin, physical or mental disability, religious affiliation, or sex.
- The New York State Civil Rights Law reiterates and expands on the proscriptions against housing discrimination in the Federal Law. New York State specifically precludes discrimination based on a person’s creed, age, sexual orientation, or marital or military status.
- The New York City Human Rights Law offers additional protections that prohibit housing discrimination based on gender and gender identity, citizenship status, and lawful occupation and income sources (including income from public assistance and unemployment).
NYC Housing Rights Attorneys
The NYC civil rights attorneys at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, & Green have the skills, knowledge, and experience to challenge the landlords, property owners, and banks that continue to deny fair advantages to persons in protected classes. We offer free consultations to persons that have suffered housing discrimination. If you retain us and we agree to represent you in a housing discrimination lawsuit, we will fight tirelessly to recover the largest potential damages award that you deserve for the losses, humiliation, and injustice that you experienced.