You spend the night with your significant other. Your landlord tells you they will evict you for having sex before marriage unless you agree to stop seeing your significant other on their property. Can they do it?

Or you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and your landlord catches wind of your orientation. Can they drive you out of your apartment because they believe being queer is a sin?

Not in the state of New York, they can’t. 

In New York, there are two reasons why a landlord may evict a tenant.

  1. The tenant has not paid rent.
  2. You violated your lease.

Chances are there is nothing in your lease about your orientation or activities.  Fair Housing and anti-discrimination laws protect New York tenants, and such provisions wouldn’t be legal to place in a lease in the first place. 

Fair Housing Laws include the federal Fair Housing Act, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law

These laws protect you from discrimination based on many factors, including your sexual orientation, marital status, or partnership status, no matter what your landlord’s beliefs are regarding how those issues should be handled or conducted. If a landlord is trying to intimidate you out of your home based on any of these factors, you should contact a real estate lawyer like me ASAP. Housing discrimination is illegal, and so are discriminatory evictions.

If you find yourself in this situation, document all verbal communications and then instruct your landlord to contact you in writing only. Keep copies of every written communication. Keep receipts and photos of rent checks or other payments made to your landlord. Live within the absolute letter of all the provisions of your lease. You don’t want to give your landlord any excuse.

You may also want to consider doing some house hunting. The landlord can choose not to renew a lease without explaining why. Once you lose the protections of a lease, your landlord can ask you to move with just thirty days’ notice. While your landlord may be doing so for discriminatory reasons, it may be harder to fight the revocation of your tenancy. Nevertheless, if you have documented everything, you may have the grounds for a Fair Housing case which may offer some remedies to you. You can still file a complaint, and you may be able to sue your landlord for damages.

Don’t try to do guesswork. Housing law is complicated. If you’re having problems, reach out to our office right away.

See also:

What Are Your Rights as a Month-to-Month Tenant in NYC?

6 Provisions That Aren’t Allowed in NYC Leases

Tenant Eviction Defenses in New York City

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