New Housing and Anti-Discrimination Form, Fair Housing Notice in Effect

Lance Evans, executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. Emil Lippe/NNY Living

On June 20, 2020, new Fair Housing regulations went into effect in New York state. The regulation requires two new actions by real estate licensees and consumers and one new item for real estate schools. The new consumer forms are the Housing and Anti-Discrimination Disclosure Form and the Fair Housing Notice. All schools will now need to make and keep an audio and video recording of all fair housing continuing education courses. What does this mean to sellers, buyers, landlords, and tenants? 

    The Housing and Anti-Discrimination Disclosure Form (HADF), created by the New York State Department of State, is a two-page form. Licensees need to be present to every consumer upon “first substantive contact.” This is similar to when the agency disclosure form is presented. Unlike the agency disclosure form, which is only used in residential sales and rentals, this form needs to be given to any buyer, seller, landlord, or tenant, regardless of the type of property. As with any legal document, both the consumer and licensee will retain a copy. 

    The form reminds the reader that it is illegal for “any property owner, landlord, property manager or other person who sells, rents or leases housing, to discriminate based on certain protected characteristics, which include, but are not limited to race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, lawful source of income or familial status.” 

    It details ways that the law can be violated including discriminating when negotiating a sale or lease, steering a consumer towards or away from a certain town or neighborhood, discriminating in any statement, publication, advertisement, application, etc., or treating one consumer differently from another based on a protected class. 

    The form also includes information about filing a complaint with New York State Division of Human Rights (www.dhr.ny.gov) if a consumer feels that he or she has been discriminated against. Complaints can also be filed via phone or visiting the division’s offices. Licensees may provide the form to a prospective purchaser, tenant, seller or landlord by any of the following means: email, text, electronic messaging system, facsimile, or hardcopy. An electronic communication containing a link to the disclosure notice is allowed as long as it also contains the text to inform the prospective purchaser, tenant, seller, or landlord that the link contains information regarding the New York State Human Rights Law. Oral disclosure is not allowed. 

    In association with the form is a fair housing notice which must be prominently displayed at every office and branch office operated by a broker. This is different from the Housing and Anti-Discrimination Disclosure Form. 

    The notice must be displayed in the office window if the broker provides listings or postings in their window of any office and branch office. It needs to be visible to people on the portion of the sidewalk adjacent to the office. If an office is not accessible from the sidewalk, or if postings are otherwise prohibited by any other applicable law, then the fair housing notice should be posted in the same location that the business license is posted. 

    Additionally, the notice needs to be visible at all open houses (live or virtual) in a place where all the attendees will see it. It should also be available to hand out or send to a consumer if requested. Finally, if the broker or agent has a website, the form, or a link to the form, must be prominently displayed on the site. 

    A final requirement is that a real estate school (like both the Jefferson-Lewis and St. Lawrence County Boards of Realtors) will need to audio and video record all fair housing and/or discrimination real estate continuing education classes. The recording of the course will need to be kept for at least one year after the end of the course. 

    All these additions to the law show a strengthened commitment by New York state and real estate licensees to the principles of fair housing and non-discrimination. Real estate professionals are an important facet of making sure the real estate experience is fair to all.