Protected Class: Marital Status

The Law

It is illegal to be denied a housing opportunity because of your marital status.

Marital status includes the state of being married, divorced, or single.

Marital Status Discrimination

Since NY State recently approved marriage for same-sex couples, marital status discrimination could also be sexual orientation discrimination.

Discrimination means being treated differently by any person with the authority to rent, sell, or deal with applicants or residents of a housing accommodation. For example, a building owner or representative (such as a superintendent) is discriminating if they treat you differently because of your marital status, such as refusing to list an unmarried partner on the lease.

These behaviors, policies, or practices could be evidence of discrimination:

  • Being denied an apartment application because the building owner rejects your or your partner’s marital status;
  • Being asked if you are planning to marry or consider yourself a ‘couple’;
  • Being asked for a cosigner on a lease because you are single (usually women);
  • Advertising apartments with the phrase “Couple preferred” or “No Singles”;
  • Being told that all tenants cohabiting must be related by blood, marriage, or adoption and asking for documents to prove it;

The Law also prohibits retaliation if you file a discrimination complaint against someone, or act as a witness for someone else who files a complaint.

File a Complaint

If you believe you are the victim of housing discrimination, contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights by calling 311 or the Commission Infoline at (718) 722-3131.

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