BILL NUMBER: S5789
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the civil rights law, in relation to discrimination in
the ownership of cooperative housing
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
Many prospective cooperators are arbitrarily and discriminatorily
rejected. By requiring cooperative apartment corporations, to provide a
statement of reasons, this bill will serve to reduce the incidence of
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
This bill amends Civil Rights Law § 19-a to require a cooperative apart-
ment corporation to provide a prospective purchaser with a written
statement of reasons whenever the corporation withholds its consent to
the sale of the corporation's stock.
Cooperative apartment corporations currently are not required to inform
prospective purchasers of the reasons for their rejection.
Cooperative ownership in multi-family dwellings is becoming an extremely
popular form of home ownership in New York State. In 1971, the Legisla-
ture enacted section 19-a of the Civil Rights Law, which prohibits coop-
erative apartment corporations from discriminating against prospective
purchasers on the basis of race, religion, national origin or sex. Such
discrimination nevertheless remains a widespread problem. See, e.g.,
BACHMAN V. STATE DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, 104 A.D. 2d 111 (1st Dept.
1984); ROBINSON V. 12 LOFTS REALTY, INC., 610 F. 2d 1032 (2d Cir. 1979);
ROGERS V. 66-36 YELLOWSTONE BLVD. COOPERATIVE OWNERS, INC., 599 F. Supp.
79 (E.D.N.Y.1984); see also SANDERS V. WINSHIP, 57 N.Y. 2d 391 (1982).
As the Court of Appeals has declared, "discrimination is rarely so obvi-
ous or its practices so overt that recognition of it is instant and
conclusive, it being accomplished usually by devious and subtle means."
300 GRAMATAN AVENUE ASSOCIATES V. STATE DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, 45
N.Y. 2d 176 (1978). At present, proving discrimination by cooperative
apartment corporations is even more difficult than proving housing
discrimination in other contexts.
First, because the decision to reject a prospective cooperator generally
is made by an admissions committee, and the individuals on the committee
may purport to have acted for different reasons, it is difficult to
determine whether the motivating factor for the rejection was discrimi-
Second, "testing" for cooperative discrimination by the use of paired
minority and non-minority apartment seekers is harder than "testing" for
discrimination in rental housing because the process of purchasing a
cooperative apartment is much more complicated than the process of rent-
ing an apartment. Requiring cooperative apartment corporations to state
reasons for rejecting prospective tenant shareholders has been recog-
nized as an effective means of reducing the ability of such corporations
to mask discriminatory conduct. In ROGERS V. 66-36 YELLOWSTONE BLVD.
COOPERATIVE OWNERS, a federal court required a New York City cooperative
apartment corporation which had violated federal fair housing laws to
provide a statement of reasons to rejected minority applicants. If this
bill is enacted, a cooperative apartment corporation will not be able to
create after-the-fact justifications when a rejected purchaser chal-
lenges as pretextual the corporation's reasons for refusing to permit a
sale. The legislation thus will help prevent discriminatory rejections,
and will further the goal of equal housing opportunity.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2022 REFERRED TO SENATE CODES
2022 referred to assembly governmental operations
2021 SENATE THIRD READING
2021 referred to assembly governmental operations
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have
become a law.Statutes affected:
S5789: 19-a civil rights law