All’s fair in love, war, and New York’s crazy competitive housing market, right? No, actually, not quite. Here’s a little primer on the city’s Fair Housing Laws, especially as they pertain to compliance with licensing laws in our relocation-focused corner of the real estate world.
For one thing, what groups are covered and protected under Fair Housing Laws? This week’s REBNY’s Legal Line Question of the Week (available only to REBNY members, but that’s why we’re here, to helpfully summarize it for you), for instance, addresses the question of whether or not students are a protected class. According to REBNY’s legal expert Neal Garfinkel:
“No, students are not a protected class under Fair Housing Laws. The current protected classes under Fair Housing Laws include: race, color, religion/creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, sex, gender (including gender identity and sexual harassment), sexual orientation, disability, marital and familial status, partnership status, lawful occupation, military status, family status, and lawful source of income.
Although being a student is not a protected class, students are protected by Fair Housing Laws. For example, age is a protected class. Accordingly, students cannot be discriminated against because of their age. A housing provider’s policy that forbids students from living in a building based upon the age of the student would violate Fair Housing Laws.
Important Tip: All housing providers and real estate brokers should contact a fair housing attorney prior to adopting any housing policy related to students (as well as any other actual or perceived protected class).”
So there you go. To repeat, protected classes are: race, color, religion/creed age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, sex, gender (including gender identity and sexual harassment), sexual orientation, disability, marital and familial status, partnership status, lawful occupation, military status, family status, and lawful source of income.
Another important item to note - especially for our fellow brokers, salespeople, and relocation folk - is article 12A of the NYS Department of State Division of Licensing Services. You can click through for the whole (long) article here, but we must point out in particular the "for another and for a fee" language in regards to compliance to real estate law. Namely, as per article 12A:
"...real estate broker" means any person, firm or corporation, who, for another and for a fee, commission or other valuable consideration, lists for sale, sells, at auction or otherwise, exchanges, buys or rents, or offers or attempts to negotiate a sale….”
...and then it goes on and on but, suffice it to say, in New York State, if you’re accompanying a client to look at properties with the purpose of renting or selling them a home - you’d better be a licensed salesperson. No unlicensed consultants; that is straight up not legal and could well cost your company a lot of money, not to mention jeopardize your right to do business in New York.
Any questions? As always, please get in touch.