PLEASE NOTE: To protect your safety in response to the threats of Covid-19, we are offering our clients the ability to meet with us in-person, via telephone, or through video conferencing. Please call our office to discuss your options.
Polizzotto & Polizzotto
Call Us Today
347-462-0510 | 718-213-4861
Founded Over 40 Years Ago

How to avoid a housing discrimination suit

Anyone involved in any phase of a residential real estate transaction – especially any professional – should be familiar with the Fair Housing Act. This is the federal law that prohibits discrimination against potential buyers on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, disability or other legally protected class. In New York, age is also a protected class.

Whether you're a mortgage lender, a property manager or a real estate agent or broker, it's easier than you might think to be accused of housing discrimination. The head of a Long Island fair housing advocacy group says, "People get into trouble for discriminatory advertising all the time. Any time you are putting something into writing or saying something to someone who knocks on your door, what you say can be a problem. My advice is to stick to simpler descriptions—about how many bedrooms, square footage and amenities."

One real estate attorney says that some people try to exploit the law and almost always end up getting a settlement. He says that real estate professionals and home sellers can avoid being accused wrongfully of discrimination or giving the impression that they're discriminating by having a "paper trail that memorializes and makes a record of non-discriminatory preferences for the transaction."

For example, "If the seller doesn't want to deal with a buyer who has a mortgage contingency, it needs to be written down from the beginning so any potential lawsuit down the road is useless."

It's wise for sellers to not discuss any "preferences" for whom they'd like to see buy their home. Maybe those preferences are fairly innocent – like someone wanting to sell their home to a couple with children. However, the attorney advises never discussing demographics and focusing on who can give you the best offer. He says, "Sellers and brokers should look at buyers like they are dancing dollar bills. This isn't a marriage -- it's a transaction." Except in a community for people 55 and up, age and other demographic traits should never be discussed or questioned.

Discrimination suits can be costly in money and reputation. If you're a homeowner or real estate professional facing a discrimination suit, it's essential to seek legal guidance immediately.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Contact us today

Contact Our Law Offices

Give our attorneys the opportunity to demonstrate the personal, professional attention that we offer each client. Call 347-462-0510 or contact us online today.

Contact the Firm

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Connect With Us

Leap Portal

Brooklyn Office
6911 18th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11204

Phone: 347-462-0510
Fax: 718-256-0966
Brooklyn Law Office Map

Manhasset Office
1129 Northern Blvd #404
Manhasset, NY 11030

Phone: 347-462-0510
Fax: 718-256-0966
Map & Directions