New legislation passed in New York State Friday aims to make it easier for the state to revoke a real estate agent’s license in cases of discrimination.
The legislation was approved by both the state senate and assembly in the wake of a groundbreaking report by Newsday last year that highlighted instances of racial discrimination by real estate agents on Long Island.
The law takes effect immediately.
“This legislation will ensure that real estate agents who violate New York’s Human Rights Law by ‘steering’ minority families toward certain communities, or other racist practices that deny individuals the dignity of choosing their home and neighborhood, face license revocation,” New York State Senator Jim Gaughran, the author and primary sponsor of the bill, said, in a statement on Twitter.
Previously, the law that governs the revoking of a real estate license in the state allowed for such action if the licensee, “has been guilty of fraud or fraudulent practices, or for dishonest or misleading advertising, or has demonstrated untrustworthiness or incompetency to act as a real estate broker or salesman.”
The statute was amended to include that the license could be revoked if the agent was found in violation of article fifteen of the state’s executive law, which is the state’s human rights law.
The Real Estate Board of New York celebrated the passage of the bill, which passed the State Senate by a 59-1 vote, a veto-proof majority.
“All New Yorkers must have equal access and opportunity when searching for housing or commercial real estate,” REBNY President James Whelan said in a statement. “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.”
The bill comes on the heels of a three-year investigation by Long Island newspaper Newsday, which uncovered multiple instances of discriminatory practices after testing nearly 100 real estate agents and secretly recording hundreds of hours of conversations while looking at the listings of more than 5,000 homes.