State Senate Passes Bill Penalizing R.E. Brokers For Engaging in Housing Discriminatory Practices

Real Estate In-Depth | July 2020

ALBANY—The New York State Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation (S.6874A) on July 22 to hold real estate professionals accountable for discriminatory housing practices. The bill, sponsored by Senator James Gaughran, penalizes licensed real estate brokers and salespersons by either revocation or suspension of their licenses, or makes them subject to a fine if they violate the Human Rights Law, which includes housing discrimination.

“Housing discrimination and predatory practices will not be tolerated in New York,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “By advancing this legislation, the Senate Majority is sending a clear message that you will be held accountable for engaging in unfair, discriminatory, and racist housing practices. I applaud Senator Gaughran for sponsoring this legislation and continuing the Senate Majority’s commitment to equal and fair access to housing for all New Yorkers.”

Senator Gaughran added, “This legislation will ensure that real estate agents who violate New York’s Human Rights Law by ‘steering’ minority families towards certain communities, or other racist practices that deny individuals the dignity of choosing their home and neighborhood, face license revocation. Our nation’s soul is in crisis and public officials must speak out against racism and end segregation and discrimination in our society, once and for all. I thank Leader Stewart-Cousins for her historic leadership in swiftly shepherding passing this bill and fighting for a more fair, and just society.”

Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) was a co-sponsor on the Senate bill, which he notes upholds the Human Rights Law that makes housing discrimination illegal in New York State.

“Housing discrimination of any kind is wrong. New Yorkers should not be ‘steered’ towards certain communities based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity,” Senator Carlucci said. “We need laws that do not just reflect this sentiment, but hold real estate agents accountable when this occurs. Every New Yorker should have access to equal and fair housing.”

The bill passed the New York State Senate with bipartisan support in a vote of 59-1. The legislation must pass through the Assembly and be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to become law. At press time, the companion Assembly bill (A08903A) is in the Rules Committee.