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Brokers who discriminate could see their licenses revoked as a result of new law

The bill was proposed in response to Newsday's 2019 bombshell investigation that found widespread discriminatory practices by Long Island brokers.

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A new law signed today by Governor Andrew Cuomo gives the Department of State the power to revoke a New York real estate broker’s license if they violate the Human Rights Law. The bill passed New York’s legislature last month.

The legislation amends Section 441-c of Real Property Law, allowing the state to revoke or suspend an agent or broker’s real estate license, or fine them up to $1,000 if they are found to have violated a client’s human rights through unlawful discriminatory practices. 

The bill, S6874A, was introduced by Long Island State Senator James Gaughran in response to Newsday’s 2019 bombshell investigation that found widespread discriminatory practices by Long Island brokers who steered Black, Asian, and Hispanic clients away from predominantly white neighborhoods and showed them fewer listings.

The legislation is supported by New York Residential Agent Continuum. It’s also backed by the Real Estate Board of New York, the city’s leading real estate trade association.

“All New Yorkers must have equal access and opportunity when searching for housing or commercial real estate,” says James Whelan, president of REBNY. “This bill is an important step in fighting discrimination and disparate treatment which people of diverse backgrounds may experience because of a small fraction of individuals within the industry who flout the law.

"We strongly support legislation that safeguards the consumer and prohibits discrimination in the real estate industry. In addition to educating our members on this topic, NYRAC traveled to Albany in February to lobby in favor of this bill. NYRAC is dedicated to equality for all and we look forward to positive changes resulting from this legislation," says Heather McDonough Domi, founding chairperson of NYRAC.

In September, REBNY will start fining brokers for data violations in its Residential Listing Service, which feeds the New York Times and sites like realtor.com and renthop. Violations include incorrect closing price, commission type, or listing status. It will also issue other penalties for failing to abide by the Fair Housing Act.