Source of Income Housing Discrimination Protections

The New York State Human Rights Law was amended, effective April 12, 2019, to protect those who rely on any lawful source of income from discrimination in housing.

End Income Bias New YorkIf you believe that you have been discriminated against in seeking housing, please call Long Island Housing Services at 631-567-5111 ext. 375 to speak to a trained Fair Housing Investigator or Advocate or email info@LIFairHousing.org.

Si usted cree que ha sido discriminado al buscar vivienda, llame a Long Island Housing Services al 631-567-5111 ext. 378 para hablar con un investigador o defensor de vivienda justa capacitado. También puede enviar un correo electrónico a info@LIFairHousing.org.

Below you can find a New York State division of Human Rights pamphlet in English and Spanish and the pertinent sections of law.

Source of Income Discrimination pamphlet (pdf)
Download PdfEnglish Download PdfEspañol

What sources of income are protected?

Lawful sources of income include, but are not limited to:

  • child support
  • alimony or spousal maintenance
  • foster care subsidies
  • social security benefits
  • federal, state, or local public assistance
  • federal, state, or local housing assistance
  • any other form of lawful income

Housing assistance includes Section 8 or any other type of vouchers, or any other form of housing assistance, regardless of whether paid to the tenant or the landlord.

Who are persons who may not discriminate?

All housing providers and real estate professionals are required not to discriminate.

These include:

  • Owners, landlords
  • Managing agents or companies
  • Co-op boards and condominium associations
  • Tenants seeking to sublet•Real estate brokers and salespersons
  • Any employee or agent of the above

Exceptions to the New York State Human Rights Law are listed in the law below.

What actions are discriminatory when based on a person’s lawful source of income?

  • Refusal to sell, rent or lease or otherwise deny public or private housing
  • Providing different terms, conditions or privileges, or denying the use of facilities or services, of any public or private housing
  • Making any advertisement, publication, statement, inquiry, record, or using a form of application for public or private housing which expresses any intent to limit or discriminate
  • A real estate professional’s refusal to negotiate for sale, rental or lease

It is not unlawful to ask about income, only to discriminate based on lawful sources of income.Housing providers may ask about income, and about the source of income, and require documentation, in order to determine a person’s ability to pay for the housing accommodation, but must accept all lawful sources of income equally.

A publicly-assisted housing accommodation may include eligibility criteria in statements, advertisements, publications or applications, and may make inquiry or request information to the extent necessary to determine eligibility. Such eligibility criteria must be only those required by federal or state law or programs.

The new section of law on Source of Income:

The term “lawful source of income” shall include, but not be limited to, child support, alimony, foster care subsidies, income derived from social security, or any form of federal, state, or local public assistance or housing assistance including, but not limited to, section 8 vouchers, or any other form of housing assistance payment or credit whether or not such income or credit is paid or attributed directly to a landlord, and any other forms of lawful income. The provisions of this subdivision shall not be construed to prohibit the use of criteria or qualifications of eligibility for the sale, rental, leasing or occupancy of publicly-assisted housing accommodations where such criteria or qualifications are required to comply with federal or state law, or are necessary to obtain the benefits of a federal or state program. A publicly assisted housing accommodation may include eligibility criteria in statements, advertisements, publications or applications, and may make inquiry or request information to the extent necessary to determine eligibility.

The existing section of law that prevents housing discrimination with the exclusions bolded:

5. (a) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for the owner, lessee, sub-lessee, assignee, or managing agent of, or other person having the right to sell, rent or lease a housing accommodation, constructed or to be constructed, or any agent or employee thereof:

(1) To refuse to sell, rent, lease or otherwise to deny to or withhold from any person or group of persons such a housing accommodation because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, [Effective April 12, 2019:  lawful source of income] or familial status of such person or persons, or to represent that any housing accommodation or land is not available for inspection, sale, rental or lease when in fact it is so available.

(2) To discriminate against any person because of race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, [Effective April 12, 2019:  lawful source of income] or familial status in the terms, conditions or privileges of the sale, rental or lease of any such housing accommodation or in the furnishing of facilities or services in connection therewith.

(3) To print or circulate or cause to be printed or circulated any statement, advertisement or publication, or to use any form of application for the purchase, rental or lease of such housing accommodation or to make any record or inquiry in connection with the prospective purchase, rental or lease of such a housing accommodation which expresses, directly or indirectly, any limitation, specification or discrimination as to race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, [Effective April 12, 2019:  lawful source of income] or familial status, or any intent to make any such limitation, specification or discrimination.

The provisions of this paragraph (a) shall not apply (1) to the rental of a housing accommodation in a building which contains housing accommodations for not more than two families living independently of each other, if the owner resides in one of such housing accommodations, (2) to the restriction of the rental of all rooms in a housing accommodation to individuals of the same sex or (3) to the rental of a room or rooms in a housing accommodation, if such rental is by the occupant of the housing accommodation or by the owner of the housing accommodation and the owner resides in such housing accommodation or (4) solely with respect to age and familial status to the restriction of the sale, rental or lease of housing accommodations exclusively to persons sixty-two years of age or older and the spouse of any such person, or for housing intended and operated for occupancy by at least one person fifty-five years of age or older per unit. In determining whether housing is intended and operated for occupancy by persons fifty-five years of age or older, Sec. 807(b) (2) (c) (42 U.S.C. 3607 (b) (2) (c)) of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1988, as amended, shall apply.

(b) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for the owner, lessee, sub-lessee, or managing agent of, or other person having the right of ownership or possession of or the right to sell, rent or lease, land or commercial space:

(1) To refuse to sell, rent, lease or otherwise deny to or withhold from any person or group of persons land or commercial space because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, or familial status of such person or persons, or to represent that any housing accommodation or land is not available for inspection, sale, rental or lease when in fact it is so available;

(2) To discriminate against any person because of race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, or familial status in the terms, conditions or privileges of the sale, rental or lease of any such land or commercial space; or in the furnishing of facilities or services in connection therewith;

(3) To print or circulate or cause to be printed or circulated any statement, advertisement or publication, or to use any form of application for the purchase, rental or lease of such land or commercial space or to make any record or inquiry in connection with the prospective purchase, rental or lease of such land or commercial space which expresses, directly or indirectly, any limitation, specification or discrimination as to race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, or familial status; or any intent to make any such limitation, specification or discrimination.

(4) With respect to age and familial status, the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to the restriction of the sale, rental or lease of land or commercial space exclusively to persons fifty-five years of age or older and the spouse of any such person, or to the restriction of the sale, rental or lease of land to be used for the construction, or location of housing accommodations exclusively for persons sixty-two years of age or older, or intended and operated for occupancy by at least one person fifty-five years of age or older per unit. In determining whether housing is intended and operated for occupancy by persons fifty-five years of age or older, Sec. 807(b)(2)(c) (42 U.S.C. 3607(b)(2)(c)) of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1988, as amended, shall apply.

(c) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any real estate broker, real estate salesperson or employee or agent thereof:

(1) To refuse to sell, rent or lease any housing accommodation, land or commercial space to any person or group of persons or to refuse to negotiate for the sale, rental or lease, of any housing accommodation, land or commercial space to any person or group of persons because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, [Effective April 12, 2019:  lawful source of income] or familial status of such person or persons, or to represent that any housing accommodation, land or commercial space is not available for inspection, sale, rental or lease when in fact it is so available, or otherwise to deny or withhold any housing accommodation, land or commercial space or any facilities of any housing accommodation, land or commercial space from any person or group of persons because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, [Effective April 12, 2019:  lawful source of income] or familial status of such person or persons.

(2) To print or circulate or cause to be printed or circulated any statement, advertisement or publication, or to use any form of application for the purchase, rental or lease of any housing accommodation, land or commercial space or to make any record or inquiry in connection with the prospective purchase, rental or lease of any housing accommodation, land or commercial space which expresses, directly or indirectly, any limitation, specification, or discrimination as to race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, [Effective April 12, 2019:  lawful source of income] or familial status; or any intent to make any such limitation, specification or discrimination.

(3) With respect to age and familial status, the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to the restriction of the sale, rental or lease of any housing accommodation, land or commercial space exclusively to persons fifty-five years of age or older and the spouse of any such person, or to the restriction of the sale, rental or lease of any housing accommodation or land to be used for the construction or location of housing accommodations for persons sixty-two years of age or older, or intended and operated for occupancy by at least one person fifty-five years of age or older per unit. In determining whether housing is intended and operated for occupancy by persons fifty-five years of age or older, Sec. 807 (b)(2)(c) (42 U.S.C. 3607(b)(2)(c)) of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1988, as amended, shall apply.

(d) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any real estate board, because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, age, sex, disability, marital status, [Effective April 12, 2019:  lawful source of income] or familial status of any individual who is otherwise qualified for membership, to exclude or expel such individual from membership, or to discriminate against such individual in the terms, conditions and privileges of membership in such board.

(e) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for the owner, proprietor or managing agent of, or other person having the right to provide care and services in, a private proprietary nursing home, convalescent home, or home for adults, or an intermediate care facility, as defined in section two of the social services law, heretofore constructed, or to be constructed, or any agent or employee thereof, to refuse to provide services and care in such home or facility to any individual or to discriminate against any individual in the terms, conditions, and privileges of such services and care solely because such individual is a blind person. For purposes of this paragraph, a “blind person” shall mean a person who is registered as a blind person with the commission for the visually handicapped and who meets the definition of a “blind person” pursuant to section three of chapter four hundred fifteen of the laws of nineteen hundred thirteen entitled “An act to establish a state commission for improving the condition of the blind of the state of New York, and making an appropriation therefor”.

(f) The provisions of this subdivision, as they relate to age, shall not apply to persons under the age of eighteen years.

(g) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person offering or providing housing accommodations, land or commercial space as described in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of this subdivision to make or cause to be made any written or oral inquiry or record concerning membership of any person in the state organized militia in relation to the purchase, rental or lease of such housing accommodation, land, or commercial space, provided, however, that nothing in this subdivision shall prohibit a member of the state organized militia from voluntarily disclosing such membership.