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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Real Estate Board unanimously approved a proposed regulation to strengthen the state’s fair housing enforcement efforts and prevent discriminatory practices by real estate professionals. Earlier this month, the Governor launched the Fair Housing Enforcement Program – a groundbreaking initiative to uncover discrimination in rental and home sale transactions in New York State.

“Housing discrimination is not just wrong – it is illegal, and this administration has zero tolerance for these unscrupulous and immoral practices,” said Governor Cuomo. “I applaud the members of this board for their swift action and for working with us to create a safe, fair and welcoming New York."

The proposed regulation clarifies that acts of discrimination by licensed real estate professionals are illegal and that the New York Department of State will seek sanctions, including license revocation and fines, against real estate brokers and salespeople who are found to have engaged in any discriminatory practices in the course of their licensed real estate activities.

The Real Estate Board is chaired by the Secretary of State and includes members of the public and representatives from the New York State real estate industry. With the exception of matters delegated specifically to the Secretary, the Board has general authority to promulgate rules and regulations affecting real estate brokers and salespersons in order to administer and effectuate the purposes of Article 12-A of the Real Property Law.

“The New York Department of State thanks the members of the Real Estate Board for their quick approval of these important regulations,” said Acting Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “Denying New Yorkers access to housing, whether it be through harassment or discrimination, will not be tolerated.”

“The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) commends the Department of State, the Governor’’s office and their respective staffs for all they are doing to enhance and enforce our very important Fair Housing Laws,” said John H. Banks, President of REBNY. “REBNY stands ready to assist the Department of State and the Governor in continuing to create Fair Housing educational and awareness programs to support these initiatives.”

“The New York State Association of REALTORS® (NYSAR) and its 50,000 REALTORS® applaud Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for his newly launched Fair Housing Enforcement Program,” said S. Anthony Gatto, Esq., General Counsel and Director of Legal Services, NYSAR. “New York State’s REALTORS® vigorously support the ideal that no one should be discriminated against based on race, color, national origin, disability or familial status as well as the additional protected classes under New York State and Local Law including sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, age or being a victim of domestic violence. We would also like to thank the Department of State for their cooperation incorporating a number of suggestions made by NYSAR and REBNY.”

The Department of State will also advise the real estate industry of the new regulation and develop detailed guidance informing real estate brokers and salespeople of their obligations under law.

Additionally, the New York State Division of Human Rights has filed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with the Department of State. This proposed regulation clarifies that it is an unlawful practice under the State Human Rights Law to discriminate against individuals because of their relationship or association with members of a protected class. This regulation will ensure that all New Yorkers know that they have the right to rent or buy residential or commercial space, or patronize such places as stores, restaurants or theaters, regardless of the race, color, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or other protected characteristic of their family members, associates, or clients. This regulation will apply beyond seeking housing and commercial properties, to all protected areas under the Human Rights law, including public accommodations, employment, and credit.

Both the Department of State’s and the Division of Human Right’s proposed regulations will be published in issue 10 of the State Register on March 9, 2016 and will be subject to a 45 day comment period.

More information regarding what constitutes discriminatory practices in the sale or rental of housing or other real estate can be found in the New York State Division of Human Rights’ Fair Housing Guide.