Initiatives | Press Releases | Publications | Local Human Rights Commissions  | Statistics | Videos

Changes to the Human Rights Law - July 2021

Simplifying Filing a Division Complaint
Strengthening Prohibitions Against Housing Discrimination
Notice on Prospective Tenants on Source of Income Discrimination



Simplifying Filing a Division Complaint

On July 16, 2021, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed Senate Bill No. 7105, legislation that will permit greater flexibility for people filing discrimination complaints with the Division of Human Rights. Previously, under the Human Rights Law, a complaint had to be verified by oath before a notary public or other authorized person in order to commence administrative procedures with the Division. HRL § 297(1) now provides that a written complaint may be made, signed and filed under oath or by declaration. This means that a Division complaint can either be sworn to before a notary public or, alternatively, signed with a declaration that the complaint is true under penalty of perjury. This legislation, which was proposed by the Division and is effective immediately, will simplify procedures for people who are seeking to file discrimination complaints with the Division and provide greater access to the Division’s services.

Strengthening Prohibitions Against Housing Discrimination

On July 16, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill No. 6886, legislation proposed by the Division, to strengthen provisions of the Human Rights Law that prohibit housing discrimination.

Previously, owner-occupied two-unit dwellings were entirely exempt from the Human Rights Law, including provisions that make it unlawful to refuse to rent housing accommodations because of membership in a protected class, to discriminate in the terms, conditions or privileges of the rental of housing accommodation based on membership in a protected class, or to make discriminatory advertising or inquiries.

Effective immediately, there is no longer an exemption from the prohibitions against discriminatory advertising and inquiries for the rental of a unit in an owner-occupied two-unit dwelling. The legislation further provides that engaging in discriminatory advertising or inquiries will cause an owner of such property to lose the exemption to the portions of the Human Rights Law that prohibit rental discrimination or discrimination in the terms and conditions of such rental. Thus, not only will such owner be liable under the advertising provisions of the Human Rights Law, but the Human Rights Law now applies in full force to such property whenever the advertising and inquiries provision is violated.


Notice on Prospective Tenants on Source of Income Discrimination

On July 16, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed into law Assembly Bill No. 3112B, which directs the Division to promulgate regulations requiring entities authorized to administer any public housing program or assistance to provide written notice to prospective tenants, and to individuals who have applied for and are eligible to receive housing assistance, of their rights related to source of income discrimination.

This law will strengthen the housing provisions of the Human Rights Law, which were amended in 2019 to prohibit housing discrimination based on lawful source of income. The required written notice will assure that housing assistance recipients are aware of their rights under the HRL to utilize their vouchers and other assistance without discrimination and will inform those individuals how they may make a complaint if they believe they have been subject to discrimination. This law will become effective on September 14, 2021.