Assembly Passes Legislation Protecting New Yorkers from Discrimination by Real Estate Brokers and Agents

Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre today announced the Assembly has passed legislation to help end discriminatory practices in the real estate industry that disproportionately affect minority homebuyers. This legislation makes clear that real estate brokers and salespersons may be fined and their licenses suspended or revoked for subjecting prospective homebuyers to discriminatory practices (A.8903-A, Jean-Pierre).

“New York has long been a champion of civil rights, but my colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority know that there is still work to be done,” said Speaker Heastie. “No one seeking to buy a home should be subject to different treatment by their real estate broker on the basis of the color of their skin, ethnicity or any other personal trait. This legislation reflects our commitment to protecting the rights of every New Yorker.”

“Homeownership is the cornerstone of the American Dream, and real estate agents and brokers play a significant role in this momentous part of their client's lives,” said Assemblymember Jean-Pierre. “Discrimination and segregation have no place in our modern society, and certainly have no place within the real estate and housing industry.”

New York already prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, military status, family status, sexual orientation or gender identity. The Department of State has the authority to fine, suspend or revoke the license of a broker or real estate salesperson for violations of law, but the statute does not specify that this includes for discriminating in their capacity as an agent or broker. This important legislation changes this, expressly confirming the Department’s authority to punish such conduct in order to deter future behaviors and to better secure for homebuyers the right to fair and equal treatment in the real-estate and housing marketplace.

An in-depth, three year investigation conducted by Newsday into real estate practices in 2019 revealed some troubling statistics. Though they may not have been aware, as many as 19 percent of Asians, 39 percent of Hispanics and 49 percent of African-Americans were limited to options and subjected to requirements by their real estate brokers that were not required of their white counterparts. There are few investments as important and as consequential in one's life as the purchase of a new home. People who invest their trust and hard-earned money in real estate agents to help them make that purchase deserve better.