Back in March, The New York Times ran a story of alleged widespread discrimination by the city’s landlords against those would-be tenants who had Section 8 federal housing vouchers. A local group had conducted a city-wide sting that left 88 landlords and some brokers open to allegations of discrimination against those of lesser means in regard to housing.
If you are a landlord here in Queens, it would behoove you to pay close attention to that case and your responses to prospective tenants seeking to rent an apartment with Section 8 vouchers.
Landlords can’t discriminate based on income sources
There are many legal reasons to turn down potentially problematic tenants for your properties, e.g., a history of evictions. But you have to be very careful not to veer over into the territory of discrimination or you can face very serious legal repercussions. In the Times article, allegedly the brokers and landlords were caught on tape abruptly ending discussions about renting once they became aware that the prospective tenants received Section 8 vouchers. In some apparent incidents, the real estate professionals and landlords hung up on the callers posing as Section 8 renters.
Could you get accused of rental discrimination?
It has been said that anyone can file a lawsuit against a ham sandwich, but having it stand up in court is quite another matter. Therefore, it is entirely possible that one day you could face allegations of rental discrimination from your tenant(s).
Learning more about the landlord-tenant laws here in New York City can help you determine your course of action in any forthcoming dispute.