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A02685 Summary:

Amd §19-a, Civ Rts L
Requires cooperative housing corporations provide a prospective purchaser with a written statement of reasons when withholding consent to a purchase; voids any agreement inconsistent with such requirement.
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A02685 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the civil rights law, in relation to discrimination in the ownership of cooperative housing   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: Many prospective cooperators are arbitrarily and discriminatorily rejected. By requiring cooperative apartment corporations, to provide a statement of reasons, this bill will serve to reduce the incidence of such rejections.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: This bill amends Civil Rights Law § 19-a to require a cooperative apart- ment corporation to provide a prospective purchaser with a written statement of reasons whenever the corporation withholds its consent to the sale of the corporation's stock.   EXISTING LAW: Cooperative apartment corporations currently are not required to inform prospective purchasers of the reasons for their rejection.   JUSTIFICATION: Cooperative ownership in multi-family dwellings is becoming an extremely popular form of home ownership in New York State. In 1971, the Legisla- ture enacted section 19-a of the Civil Rights Law, which prohibits coop- erative apartment corporations from discriminating against prospective purchasers on the basis of race, religion, national origin or sex. Such discrimination nevertheless remains a widespread problem. See, e.g., BACHMAN V. STATE DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, 104 A.D. 2d 111 (1st Dept. 1984); ROBINSON V. 12 LOFTS REALTY, INC., 610 F. 2d 1032 (2d Cir. 1979); ROGERS V. 66-36 YELLOWSTONE BLVD. COOPERATIVE OWNERS, INC., 599 F. Supp. 79 (E.D.N.Y.1984); see also SANDERS V. WINSHIP, 57 N.Y. 2d 391 (1982). As the Court of Appeals has declared, "discrimination is rarely so obvi- ous or its practices so overt that recognition of it is instant and conclusive, it being accomplished usually by devious and subtle means." 300 GRAMATAN AVENUE ASSOCIATES V. STATE DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, 45 N.Y. 2d 176 (1978). At present, proving discrimination by cooperative apartment corporations is even more difficult than proving housing discrimination in other contexts. First, because the decision to reject a prospective cooperator generally is made by an admissions committee, and the individuals on the committee may purport to have acted for different reasons, it is difficult to determine whether the motivating factor for the rejection was discrimi- natory. Second, "testing" for cooperative discrimination by the use of paired minority and non-minority apartment seekers is harder than "testing" for discrimination in rental housing because the process of purchasing a cooperative apartment is much more complicated than the process of rent- ing an apartment. Requiring cooperative apartment corporations to state reasons for rejecting prospective tenant shareholders has been recog- nized as an effective means of reducing the ability of such corporations to mask discriminatory conduct. In ROGERS V. 66-36 YELLOWSTONE BLVD. COOPERATIVE OWNERS, a federal court required a New York City cooperative apartment corporation which had violated federal fair housing laws to provide a statement of reasons to rejected minority applicants. If this bill is enacted, a cooperative apartment corporation will not be able to create after-the-fact justifications when a rejected purchaser chal- lenges as pretextual the corporation's reasons for refusing to permit a sale. The legislation thus will help prevent discriminatory rejections, and will further the goal of equal housing opportunity.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2016: A6705 - Referred to Codes 2017-2018: A10216 - Referred to Codes 2019-2020: S2124 Referred to Codes 2021-2022: 51449 - Referred to Codes   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: None.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law.
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