New fair housing requirements in New York part of industry reform

By Anthony SanFilippo
May 2020

The New York State Board of Real Estate adopted new state rules requiring all real estate agents and brokers to notify all buyers, sellers and renters about anti-discrimination laws.

Additionally, they must prominently display information about how customers can file complaints. It was also mandated that both audio and video recordings of classes, for those groups that provide fair housing training, is required.

The Board, which writes the rules and regulations for the real estate industry, announced these rules go into effect beginning June 20.

According to a report in Newsday, a spokesperson for the New York Department of State indicated that the regulations “will help combat discriminatory actions and ensure New Yorkers understand their rights.”

Why New Rules?

Widespread racial bias by real estate agents and brokers on Long Island unearthed by a Newsday investigation led to the crafting of these new rules.

As a result, with these new regulations, the state can now issue fines or even suspend or revoke the licenses of agents and brokers who violate the rules.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed these new rules in December, they were adopted in April, and officially entered into the state register in May.

“I think it’s important from the beginning of the relationship,” Neil Garfinkel, broker counsel for the Real Estate Board of New York told Newsday.  “And then it’s a great way to – should a conversation, you know, slip over the line or whatever the case may be – to then say, ‘Hey, remember, we talked about this? This is why I can’t do that.’”

About The New Rules

Not only do the agents and brokers have to share the fair housing disclosures with potential clients, but they have to retain proof that the disclosure was shared for three years.

The sharing of the disclosure can be done verbally, or on a printed form. However, the proof of the shared disclosure must include either a signed document from the customer, or an email, text or fax from the customer acknowledging receipt of the fair housing regulations.

If a customer refuses to sign off on receipt of these rules, the agent or broker must fill out a form immediately stating the provided the disclosure and the customer refused to sign it.

As for posting notices that instruct customers how to file complaints with the state, agents and brokers must post them at their offices, when hosting open houses, and on their websites.

The new rules both inform customers and protect them at the same time, and with this new empowerment serves as a reminder to both brokers and agents that they should avoid any actions that can simply be viewed as discriminatory.

New rules in New York are requiring real estate agents and brokers to be more direct and transparent with anti-discrimination laws for their clients.Click To Tweet

The audio and video recordings of fair housing classes must be kept by brokerages for a minimum of one year. State law requires agents to take 22.5 hours of continuing education every two years, three of which have to be dedicated to fair housing, in order for their real estate licenses to renew.

This was also a result of the Newsday investigation which found that some classes offered on Long Island by the Board of REALTORS® (LIBOR) were not meeting that standard.

LIBOR postponed their classes, and completely overhauled their continuing education program, which included hiring new trainers.

“If the brokers are trained properly [then] this is the best tool since sliced bread,” Andrew Lieb, an attorney and fair housing trainer told Newsday.  “Don’t you want a broker that knows how to protect you?”


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