Realtor Talking to Elderly RentersCity, state, and federal laws all protect the rights of Americans to find housing. However, finding safe, affordable accommodation in any of New York City’s five boroughs can be challenging, especially for older adults. Opportunities often seem scarce even for families with the right financial profile and folders full of references. Beyond asking for thousands of dollars in up-front fees and deposits, property brokers sometimes adhere to unwritten rules and screen out retired tenants who do not meet certain criteria.

Age Discrimination in New York City

New York City prohibits discrimination in housing. The municipal fair housing corporation defines discrimination as simply treating a person differently in real estate transactions. A transaction could include any of the following:

  • Submitting an application to a subsidized housing unit.
  • Renting, or attempting to rent, an apartment.
  • Purchasing a townhome or condominium.

Under most circumstances, a landlord, property broker, or bank cannot deny an application for accommodation or financing based solely upon any of the following characteristics:

  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Retirement status
  • Source of income
  • Disability

Anyone licensed to rent or sell property in the city must comply with city, state, and federal fair housing laws. However, housing discrimination remains anything but uncommon, in large part because allegations of discrimination can be difficult to prove.

The Telltale Signs of Age Discrimination

Age discrimination can make it substantially more difficult for older Americans to find housing that meets their needs and falls within their budget.

While realtors and agents will rarely tell prospective tenants that a landlord has no interest in renting to older residents, certain practices can point toward prejudice. These practices could include any of the following:

Inappropriate Questions and Comments

Realtors and property brokers are often fantastic conversationalists. However, some questions can indicate a reluctance to close with older purchasers. A landlord may be discriminating based on age if they ask questions or make comments such as:

  • “How long do you have until retirement?”
  • “We prefer to rent to families.”
  • “Most of our residents are young professionals.”

After discovering an applicant’s age or retirement status, the agent may refuse to engage further, breaking off communications or making vague, noncommittal pledges to return your call later.

Failure to Follow Through

Sometimes sales agents tell buyers they are “surprised” by their age or appearance, saying they expected to meet a younger purchaser. These comments are sometimes construed as compliments or attempts to flatter a prospective buyer.

However, the agent may refuse to return your phone calls after indicating interest in the property. They may even tell you that the home has already been solved.

Nevertheless, the agent may refresh an online listing or schedule additional open house exhibitions at the same address.

Ageist Policies and Practices

Some landlords simply do not know—or do not care about—fair housing laws. They may advertise a preference for:

  • Students
  • Young families
  • Working professionals

Landlords may not be aware that such preferences are prejudicial and can, under certain circumstances, constitute critical violations of fair housing law.

How a New York City Elder Law Lawyer Could Help You Assert Your Rights

If you, or a loved one, have suffered age discrimination while house-hunting in New York City, an experienced elder law attorney could help you assert your rights by:

  • Investigating housing scams targeting older adults.
  • Filing claims against landlords and property brokers who refuse to rent to retirees.
  • Fighting unfair rent increases intended to drive senior citizens out of their homes.
  • Prematurely terminating a lease.
  • Protecting senior citizens from elder abuse in retirement homes and assisted living facilities.

Senior citizens are sometimes targeted by discriminatory practices, often because bad actors believe that older Americans are less likely to know their rights or take a claim to court. However, you do not have to tolerate injustice as a consequence of growing older.

Contact Our Elder Law Attorney Today to Learn More

Although our firm is equipped to handle crisis situations, it’s always best to plan for elder law needs while you’re still healthy and financially stable. A proactive approach gives you time to learn about all your options and make the choice that’s best suited to your unique needs.

Our firm is conveniently located for residents of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Our ground floor office is handicapped accessible with a subway stop and two bus lines nearby. We know that dealing with legal issues affecting your family can be stressful, but we will proactively work to provide you with peace of mind as you move forward. Contact us online today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation, or call us at 718-233-2903.