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Showing posts with label division of human rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label division of human rights. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

New Housing Discrimination Notice on Source of Income Discrimination Proposed - Comment Period Open

On May 25, 2022, the NYS Division of Human Rights proposed 9 NYCRR 466.16, which will require any entity that administers any public housing program or assistance to provide a detailed notice of rights from source of income discrimination. The enabling statute, Executive Law 170-e, explains that an entity that administers includes "any state, county, municipal or other governmental entity. . . or any agency or instrumentality of such an entity, and any public or private non-profit entity authorized to administer any public housing program or assistance."


Specifically, "[t]he notice is to advise individuals of their right to nondiscrimination based on lawful source of income in housing pursuant to Human Rights Law section 296.2-a (publicly-assisted housing) or Human Rights Law section 296.5 (private housing)" pursuant to the regulation. 


The notice must be provided as follows:

  • Current recipients must receive notice within 30 days after the effective date of the regulation;
  • Future recipients must receive notice "upon notification such individual qualifies for the voucher or assistance"; 
  • "In writing, and in 14 point... font";
  • Electronically is permissible by a link to the notice; &
  • On all websites administered by the entity. 

The required notice will look like this:

KNOW YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AS A RECIPIENT OF HOUSING ASSISTANCE

By law, you are protected from housing discrimination.

The New York State Human Rights Law makes it unlawful to discriminate in housing on the basis of your source of income. This includes all forms of housing assistance (like Section 8 vouchers, HUD VASH vouchers, New York City FHEPS and others), as well as all other lawful sources of income including: Federal, state, or local public assistance, social security benefits, child support, alimony or spousal maintenance, foster care subsidies, or any other form of lawful income.

Housing providers who are covered by the Human Rights Law include landlords, property managers, real estate professionals like brokers, tenants seeking to sublet, and anyone working on their behalf.

Housing providers are not allowed to refuse to rent to you because you receive housing assistance. They are also not allowed to charge you higher rent, or offer you worse terms in a lease, or deny you access to facilities or services that other tenants receive.

Housing providers are not allowed to make any statement or advertisement that indicates housing assistance recipients do not qualify for the housing. For example, a housing provider cannot say they do not accept housing vouchers or that they do not participate in a program such as Section 8.

It is lawful for housing providers to ask about income, and about the source of that income, and require documentation, but only in order to determine a person’s ability to pay for the housing accommodation or eligibility for a certain program. A housing provider must accept all lawful sources of income equally. It is unlawful to use any form of screening of applicants that has the intent or result of screening out those receiving housing assistance.

If you believe that you have discriminated against by a housing provider with regard to your lawful source of income, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights.

How to File a Complaint
A complaint must be filed with the Division within one year of the alleged discriminatory act or in court within three years of the alleged discriminatory act. To file a complaint, download a complaint form from www.dhr.ny.gov. For more information or assistance in filing a complaint, contact one of the Division’s offices, or call the Division’s toll-free HOTLINE at 1 (888) 392-3644. Your complaint will be investigated by the Division, and if the Division finds probable cause to believe discrimination has occurred, your case will be sent to a public hearing, or the case may proceed in state court. There is no fee charged to you for these services. Remedies in successful cases may include a cease-and-desist order, provision of housing that was denied, and monetary compensation for the harm you suffered. You can obtain a complaint form on the website, or one can be e-mailed or mailed to you. You can also call or e-mail a Division regional office. The regional offices are listed on the website. 


If you have thoughts about this notice or this regulation, you have until July 24, 2022 to comment by emailing: caroline.downey@dhr.ny.gov with I.D. No. HRT-21-22-00001-P in the subject line. 



Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Major New RE Landlord / Tenant & Brokerage Regulatory Law in NYS - BOOM

New York tenants will be receiving new notices about their rights to reasonable modifications and accommodations for persons with disabilities as of today


The Division of Human Rights has officially adopted 9 NYCRR 466.15 - see our prior blog on the topic here


The new law places a tremendous onus, with awesome exposure, on the following people: "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." The law applies to both private property and publicly-assisted housing. 


There is a special section in the law just for real estate brokers, who are now obligated to provide the notice at the first point of substantive contact.


Plus, every obligee must also prominently and conspicuously display a link to the notice "on the homepage of such website." Unfortunately, the link, which is supposed to "be made available by the Division," is not so available. 


Nonetheless, here is the official notice and it's language (if you haven't realized it yet, housing providers and their real estate brokers better get up to speed on providing reasonable accommodations and modifications today. Failure-to-accommodate lawsuits are about to be filed with record speed / frequency): 


NOTICE DISCLOSING TENANTS’ RIGHTS TO REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES Reasonable Accommodations The New York State Human Rights Law requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations or modifications to a building or living space to meet the needs of people with disabilities. For example, if you have a physical, mental, or medical impairment, you can ask your housing provider to make the common areas of your building accessible, or to change certain policies to meet your needs.


To request a reasonable accommodation, you should contact your property manager by calling ______________ or ______________, or by e-mailing ______________. (note: brokers may delete "by calling ______________ or ______________, or by e-mailing ______________.)


You will need to inform your housing provider that you have a disability or health problem that interferes with your use of housing, and that your request for accommodation may be necessary to provide you equal access and opportunity to use and enjoy your housing or the amenities and services normally offered by your housing provider. A housing provider may request medical information, when necessary to support that there is a covered disability and that the need for the accommodation is disability related. 


If you believe that you have been denied a reasonable accommodation for your disability, or that you were denied housing or retaliated against because you requested a reasonable accommodation, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights as described at the end of this notice.


Specifically, if you have a physical, mental, or medical impairment, you can request:

  • Permission to change the interior of your housing unit to make it accessible (however, you are required to pay for these modifications, and in the case of a rental your housing provider may require that you restore the unit to its original condition when you move out);
  • Changes to your housing provider’s rules, policies, practices, or services;
  • Changes to common areas of the building so you have an equal opportunity to use the building. The New York State Human Rights Law requires housing providers to pay for reasonable modifications to common use areas.

Examples of reasonable modifications and accommodations that may be requested under the New York State Human Rights Law include:

  • If you have a mobility impairment, your housing provider may be required to provide you with a ramp or other reasonable means to permit you to enter and exit the building. 
  • If your healthcare provider provides documentation that having an animal will assist with your disability, you should be permitted to have the animal in your home despite a “no pet” rule.
  • If you need grab bars in your bathroom, you can request permission to install them at your own expense. If your housing was built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 and the walls need to be reinforced for grab bars, your housing provider must pay for that to be done.
  • If you have an impairment that requires a parking space close to your unit, you can request your housing provider to provide you with that parking space, or place you at the top of a waiting list if no adjacent spot is available. 
  • If you have a visual impairment and require printed notices in an alternative format such as large print font, or need notices to be made available to you electronically, you can request that accommodation from your landlord.


Required Accessibility Standards 

All buildings constructed for use after March 13, 1991, are required to meet the following standards:

  • Public and common areas must be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;
  • All doors must be sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons in wheelchairs; and 
  • All multi-family buildings must contain accessible passageways, fixtures, outlets, thermostats, bathrooms, and kitchens.


If you believe that your building does not meet the required accessibility standards, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights.


How to File a Complaint

A complaint must be filed with the Division within one year of the alleged discriminatory act or in court within three years of the alleged discriminatory act. You can find more information on your rights, and on the procedures for filing a complaint, by going to www.dhr.ny.gov, or by calling 1-888-392-3644. You can obtain a complaint form on the website, or one can be e-mailed or mailed to you. You can also call or e-mail a Division regional office. The regional offices are listed on the website.




Thursday, October 14, 2021

No More Confidential Settlements in Discrimination Cases Brought Before the New York State Division of Human Rights

Starting on October 12, 2021, discrimination cases before the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) are no longer permitted to conclude with a private settlement. 


Instead, if settlement is achieved, DHR is now requiring "complainant’s attorney [] to state in writing why they are seeking a discontinuance and, if the reason is private settlement, the discontinuance will not be granted." Rather, "the matter [will be resolved] through an Order after stipulation that indicates the terms of the settlement or to proceed through the agency’s public hearing process." 


The purpose of this new rule, according to DHR, is "to ensure that the terms of any settlement comply with our basic standards and do not violate public policy."


Further, given that three-quarters of discrimination cases result in settlement, DHR will be able to collect better data of what is happening in resolving these disputes by monitoring settlements. Hopefully, DHR will actively compile this data and inform the public of their findings so that litigants can make smart, informed decisions, when settling cases into the future. 




Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Filing a Discrimination Complaint with the NYS Division of Human Rights Just Got Easier

As of July 16, 2021, discrimination victims need not have their discrimination complaints notarized before filing them with the NYS Division of Human Rights, per a change to Executive Law 297(1)


This applies to both victims of employment discrimination and housing discrimination.


According to the laws justification, the notarization requirement "discourage[d] people from filing complaints" and the Division nonetheless received over 6,000 complaints annually. 


How many complaints will the Division receive now? 


Do you think that this new law makes sense? 


Does it matter if a document is notarized? 


Shouldn't preventing discrimination be as easy as pie? 





Friday, December 11, 2020

NYS Human Rights Event on Discrimination & COVID-19

On Tuesday December 15, 2020 at 12:30PM, the NYS Division of Human Rights is hosting a virtual event about discrimination and COVID-19. 


The event will discuss "unjust targeting and attacks against Asian Americans, systemic health care disparities in Black and Brown communities, and the challenges, particularly in workplaces, for people with disabilities." 


As discrimination litigators and trainers we will be attending, will you? 





Friday, October 30, 2020

NYC Housing Discrimination Notice Law Ready for Mayor's Signature

On October 29, 2020, the NYC City Council approved a new law that requires the Department of Social Services to provide a letter to applicants about their rights to be free from source of income discrimination. 

This is yet another reminder that landlords and brokers need to understand that source of income discrimination is illegal and can subject them to large fines / judgments, loss of licensing, and terrible public relations issues. 

Landlords and brokers should review the NYC Commission on Human Right's Best Practices for Licensed Salespersons and Brokers to Avoid Source of Income Discrimination and revise their applications, leases, policy manuals, and trainings to reflect this new expected law. 


For help, contact Lieb Compliance


The new law adds new §21-141.1 to the Administrative Code as follows:

Information regarding lawful source of income discrimination. a. Definitions. For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings: CityFHEPS. The term “CityFHEPS” means the city fighting homelessness and eviction prevention supplement program established pursuant to chapter 10 of title 68 of the rules of the city of New York or any successor program. Covered entity. The term “covered entity” means the owner, lessor, lessee, sublessee, assignee, or managing agent of, or other person having the right to sell, rent or lease or approve the sale, rental or lease of a housing accommodation, constructed or to be constructed, or an interest therein, or any agent or employee thereof, who is subject to the prohibition on discrimination based on lawful source of discrimination pursuant to subdivision 5 of  section 8-107. Lawful source of income. The term “lawful source of income” has the meaning as set forth in section 8-102. Shopping letter. The term “shopping letter” means a letter issued by the department to assist a household in its housing search that identifies the household as potentially eligible for CityFHEPS and lists the maximum rent. b. The department shall provide written notice regarding the protections of section 8-107 related to lawful source of income at the time that a CityFHEPS applicant receives a shopping letter. Such notice shall be developed by the New York city commission on human rights pursuant to paragraph p of subdivision 5 of section 8-107 in consultation with the department.

It also amends §8-107(5) by adding new paragraph (p) as follows:

For purposes of this paragraph, the term “CityFHEPS” means the city fighting homelessness and eviction prevention supplement program established pursuant to chapter 10 of title 68 of the rules of the city of New York or any successor program. The commission shall develop and disseminate a written notice of protections of this subdivision related to lawful source of income. The notice shall be made available to the department of social services for use in accordance with section 21-141.1. The notice shall include, at a minimum, the following information:

1. Examples of different forms of lawful source of income; 

2. A description of covered entities required not to discriminate on the basis of lawful sources of income;

3. Examples of actions that may indicate discrimination based on lawful source of income in violation of title 8, such as refusing to accept lawful source of income for rent payment, publishing any type of advertisement that indicates a refusal to accept any lawful source of income, and refusing or delaying repairs because a person uses any lawful source of income for rent payment, publishing any type of advertisement that indicates a refusal to accept any lawful source of income,  and any additional actions landlords or brokers use to unlawfully discriminate against a person on the basis of their using any lawful source of income;

4. A statement that it is illegal for covered entities to refuse to accept a CityFHEPS subsidy for payment of rent or a security deposit voucher in buildings subject to the prohibition on discrimination on the basis of lawful source of income pursuant to section 8-107;

5. A statement that it is illegal for covered entities to request additional payments for rent, a security deposit or broker’s fee because an individual receives rental assistance;

6. A statement that it is illegal for covered entities to publish any type of advertisement that indicates a refusal to accept rental assistance;

7. A statement that it is illegal for landlords to refuse or delay making repairs to an individual’s unit because such individual pays rent with a CityFHEPS subsidy;

8. A statement that an individual has the right to be free from discriminatory, harassing or threatening behavior or comments based on such individual’s receipt of or application for CityFHEPS;

9. Directions on how to contact the commission, the department of social services’ source of income discrimination unit, the state division of human rights and the office of the state attorney general;

10. A description of potential remedies available at the commission if a covered entity is found to have engaged in discrimination based on lawful source of income; and

11. Any other information deemed appropriate by the commissioner and the commission in consultation with the department of social services.

Upon the Mayor's signature, the law will take effect 180 days thereafter.