Fair Housing Law

Protected Classes

It is illegal to discriminate against certain protected classes of people. The protected classes are as followed and covered by federal law (Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Fair Housing Act:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status: including families with minor children, pregnant woman, and adults in the process of obtaining custody of a minor child
  • Disability: including physical and mental disabilities, auditory and visual impairments, mental illness, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, HIV-positive status, alcoholism, and drug addiction recovery

Under New York State Law the following protected classes exist as well:

  • Age
  • Marital Status
  • Military Status
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity (City of Syracuse Law): prohibits discrimination based on a person’s actual or perceived sex or their gender identity or expression (i.e. transgender)

It is unlawful to:

Refuse to rent, sell, or negotiate.

Discriminate in terms, conditions, privileges or services.

Examples include:

  • Steering people to certain neighborhoods based on their race and the racial or ethnic make-up of the neighborhood
  • Charging higher rental fees or security deposits
  • Segregating residents in an apartment complex by restricting their options to  particular buildings or certain floors based on race, familial status or other protected classes

Make print or publish discriminatory statements or advertisements.

Examples include:

  • Ads which state: “no children,” “adults preferred,” “mature couples only”
  • Oral statements which are discriminatory in nature such as “We don’t want children on the second floor”

Make false representations about the availability of dwellings.

Interfere, coerce, or intimidate:

  • Against those exercising a fair housing right or those aiding others in the exercising their fair housing rights
  • Against a protected class of residents, visitors or associates
  • In an effort to deny or limit fair housing rights
  • As retaliation against those making fair housing complaints

Blockbusting — Trying to induce current homeowners to sell their homes based on representations that the racial/ethnic make-up of the neighborhood is changing.

Refuse to make reasonable accommodations for a person with a disability.

Refuse to make a reasonable modification to a dwelling or common area if necessary for a person with disability to use the housing.

Fail to design and construct multi-family housing (post 1991) that is accessible for persons with disabilities.

Discriminate when providing financing.

Examples include:

  • Home mortgages, as well as any loan that is secured by residential real estate, such as home equity lines of credit
  • Charging more points, higher interest rates, or different terms based on a person’s protected class membership
  • Predatory lending or the practice of providing loans at highly inflated interest rates and disadvantageous terms, when the loans are targeted to protected class members or neighborhoods.

Deny access to brokerage services.

Discriminate in the provision of homeowner’s insurance.

Examples include:

  • Refusing to provide homeowner’s insurance on the basis of the applicant’s membership in a protected class, or because the home for which the insurance is sought is in a racially or ethnically diverse neighborhood (redlining)
  • Providing different types of policies, or applying different terms and conditions