Featuring real estate articles and information to help real estate buyers and sellers. The Nest features writings from Georges Benoliel and other real estate professionals. Georges is the Co-Founder of NestApple and has been working as an active real estate investor for over a decade.
Co-ops are notoriously picky with their clients and renters. To a point, getting accepted into a co-op in New York City is a significant status symbol. Even celebrities have been turned away from membership in these exclusive elite circles. Also, it’s almost a trope at this point. Everyone knows that they’re discerning, but are co-ops allowed to discriminate? Co-ops can reject applicants for any reason not protected by the Fair Housing Act. This means that anything aside from creed, sex, romantic orientation, race, religion, and disability status is protected. They are also not allowed to self-deal. Trying to figure out why you were rejected can be difficult, and it can sometimes be intimidating to bring up a potential case of discrimination. Here’s what you need to know about your rights.
It’s always painful to be told that the co-op you wanted to join has no interest in having you be a member. Rejection hurts. However, there is not much you can do in most cases. Generally speaking, co-ops get a lot of applications, and very few spots open up. There is a co-op for you out there! Don’t give up.
Mostly, it’s highly unusual to hear about co-op boards rejecting people for issues like race or political affiliation, and it’s usually a lot more mundane. These issues, in particular, are cited by co-ops as reasons for rejection:
More often than not, you will feel that something isn’t right. You might notice that the co-op board is giving you a detailed look or addressing you by a specific feature. It’s a gut feeling, but the truth is that it’s tough to ascertain unless you hear comments fully.
Legally speaking, you have every right to sue for discrimination. However, it probably won’t work unless you have solid proof and testimony that the
co-op actively discriminated against you.
It’s highly unlikely to happen. Even so, you can always talk with a lawyer about it.
You always have the right to ask why the board rejected you. However, in New York City, no laws state that co-ops must tell you why. However, this is starting to change. Several proposed bills would require co-ops to explain the rejection in writing.
In Westchester, co-ops are legally obligated to give you a reason in writing. Depending on the legislation, this may become a statewide mandate within a year or two.
That said, it’s essential to realize that it’s rarely a personal issue.