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Cuomo Signs Law To Revoke Licenses Of Brokers Who Discriminate Against Buyers

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives a press conference March 17, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Real estate brokers found to have discriminated against buyers based on their race or ethnicity could now lose their license under a new state law.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the new legislation, which will give the Department of State the ability to revoke or suspend licenses if agents or brokers are found to have violated provisions of the state’s human rights law, on Monday.

"We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind in New York, and the sheer scope and breadth of the unscrupulous and discriminatory real estate practices uncovered on Long Island is repugnant to who we are," Cuomo said in a statement. "While the federal government is focused on gutting fair housing regulations that have helped so many Americans, we are vastly expanding the State's ability to crack down on unethical real estate agents and protect hard-working New Yorkers looking for a community to call home."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced last week that it was rolling back a 2015 law that mandated communities receiving grants and aid take steps to address housing segregation.

The legislation comes after an investigation by the Division of Human Rights, the Division of Homes and Community Renewal and the Department of State into discriminatory practices by real estate agents and brokers on Long Island.

That investigation was triggered by three years of undercover reporting from Newsday. The eventual story, published in November, showed agents on Long Island were regularly pushing white people into white-dominated areas, while minority buyers were encouraged to consider integrated areas. Fair housing standards require that agents give the same guidance on neighborhoods to all customers.

Contact Miriam Hall at miriam.hall@bisnow.com.