A person has the right to live in the home of his or her choice and that he or she can afford. The Fair Housing Laws and Fair Lending Laws make it illegal for any persons involved in your housing search to discriminate against you. This includes advertisers, appraisers, bankers and home inspectors. They are all required to give equal treatment to all homeseekers. The law also prohibits real estate offices, their brokers and agents from discriminating. They must treat all customers equally. Co-ops and condominiums have the same responsibility to the buyers and sellers not to discriminate.
Where can I learn more about housing discrimination?
The best resource is to visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Web site. You can read the actual federal Fair Housing Law and access the guidebook, "FAIR HOUSING: Equal Opportunity for All." Westchester Residential Opportunities (WRO) explains housing discrimination issues in an easy-to-read format. WRO offers housing counselors, who can answer questions about discrimination and other housing issues.
If I believe I've been discriminated against, what can I do?
You may be entitled to file a complaint with the Westchester Human Rights Commission. Before filing a formal complaint, you can contact one of the other local housing advocacy organizations listed below to discuss your concerns and experiences.
These organizations can sometimes speak and mediate on your behalf to avoid a potential dispute. These groups have had years of experience in the housing market and may know the landlord or rental agent you are dealing with. They can guide you through the complaint process and help you file your complaint. You may also contact the commission for assistance and advice without the matter becoming a formal complaint and proceeding. The commission welcomes the opportunity to provide education and assistance in the prevention of housing disputes.
Westchester Residential Opportunities – WRO
470 Mamaroneck Avenue – Suite 410
White Plains, New York 10605
Discrimination Hot Line Tel: ( 914) 428-4512
General Phone Number: (914) 428-4507
Westchester Mediation Center of CLUSTER
20 South Broadway – Suite 307
Yonkers, New York 10701
Tel: (914) 963-6500
Hudson Valley Legal Services
4 Cromwell Place
White Plains, New York 10601
Tel: (914) 949-1305 or (877) 574-8529
What if I have to file a complaint? What is the process?
If a formal complaint is necessary, a number of steps will take place. Your complaint will be reviewed and investigated. Communications with the source of your complaint will be held in order to address your concerns and to insure a fair and equitable process. A mediation conference may be held in order to avoid any further legal proceedings. However, if the mediation is unsuccessful the matter may be forwarded for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.