Restrictions on Transferring Real Property

Fair Housing and Human Rights Laws

Your ownership rights to your real property may also be limited by laws that promote a more equal and fair society. For instance, your right to sell or lease your property to whomever you want may be limited by Fair Housing laws that prevent you from discriminating in the sale or lease of your property. There are federal, state, and local fair housing laws that may restrict your ability to sell or rent real property. These laws are the Fair Housing Act, New York State Human Rights Law, and New York City Human Rights Law.

The purpose of these laws are to create an unbiased housing market in which all buyers have the opportunity to purchase any home in the location they want and can afford. The laws apply to housing providers, such as sellers, real estate agents, cooperative and condominium boards, and lenders of money to buy housing, such as banks and mortgage companies.

These federal and state laws prohibit discrimination related to housing on the basis of a person’s race, familial status (living with children under age 18), national origin, religion, physical or mental disability, or gender. The New York Human Rights Law also makes it illegal to discriminate based on creed, age, sexual orientation, marital status, or military status.

Under these laws, with some limited exceptions, if you own residential real estate, you cannot do any of the following things based on race, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for the sale or rental of housing
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental

If you are buying or renting a home, no one can take any of the above actions against you for discriminatory reasons. Also, if you are buying a home and need to take out a loan to do so, no bank or mortgage lender may take any of the following actions against you based on your race, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability:

  • Refuse to make a mortgage loan
  • Refuse to provide information regarding loans
  • Impose different terms or conditions on a loan
  • Discriminate in appraising property

Legal Editors: William P. Walzer and Terrence M. Dunn, October 2017

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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