Based on current available information, the Commission considers actual or perceived infection with COVID-19 to be protected as a disability under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). Housing providers must not harass or discriminate against residents, kick them out, or ask them to leave their apartment because of fears or stigma around COVID-19. It is also illegal for a housing provider to harass or discriminate against a resident based on the presumption that they have contracted or are more likely to contract COVID-19 due to actual or perceived race, national origin, disability, or another protected status.
If you are facing harassment and discrimination by your landlord, please contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
Last updated: May 3, 2021
General prohibitions against discrimination: Even in the midst of a pandemic, protections against discrimination under the NYCHRL remain in effect. If a housing provider learns or believes that a resident has or had COVID-19, they cannot retaliate or discriminate against the resident by, for example, seeking to remove the resident, or charging the resident additional fees related to cleaning or disinfecting the building. Housing providers may take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of their staff and residents, and should follow local, state, and federal public health orders and recommendations.
Reasonable accommodations: Housing providers have an ongoing duty to provide residents with reasonable accommodations for disabilities, including those related to COVID-19. Housing providers must accommodate people with disabilities, unless doing so poses an undue hardship or where the disability presents a direct threat that cannot be adequately mitigated by a reasonable accommodation. This obligation extends to all disabilities, including both those directly related to COVID-19 and underlying conditions for which exposure to COVID-19 may pose a particular risk of complication, which the NYC Department of Health has identified here.
Policies implemented to ensure the safety and health of residents, including, for example, limiting visitors or deliveries, must allow for reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities who may require a visitor to assist with basic needs or to carry deliveries to their door, rather than leaving them in the lobby. Housing providers must engage in a cooperative dialogue with their residents to determine what accommodation would meet the residents' need and not pose an undue hardship.
New York’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program: Housing providers are prohibited from discriminating against tenants because they use the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program of 2021, which qualifies as a lawful source of income under the NYCHRL.
Additional Information: please consult the Commission's Legal Enforcement Guidance on Discrimination on the Basis of Disability for more information about the cooperative dialogue process and reasonable accommodations for disabilities.
If a housing provider learns about a resident's infection with COVID-19, it should maintain that information in a confidential manner.