Sunday, October 3, 2010

Did You Know - Attorney General Memorandum-New Jersey Realtors

TRENTON – Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Division on Civil Rights Director Chinh Q. Le today issued an updated legal memorandum detailing the rights of property buyers and renters under state and federal law, as well as the obligations of property sellers and real estate professionals.

The memorandum is available to any member of the public and must, by rule of the New Jersey Real Estate Commission, be provided by licensed real estate brokers and salespersons to anyone listing a property with them for rent or sale.

“This is an important memorandum, because both the law and practices in the real estate industry continue to evolve,” said Attorney General Dow. “It is vital that those who are selling property have a clear understanding of what is required of them, and it’s equally vital that those who are buying or renting property know their rights.”

“Beyond restating black-letter law on housing discrimination,” said Director Le, “the revised memorandum provides clearer guidance on issues that impact those who receive rental assistance, families with children, persons with conviction and arrest records and immigrants."

While the memorandum issued today repeats some content contained in a prior State memorandum on housing sales and rentals, language new to the current version notes that the Division takes the position that certain actions may violate New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and/or federal civil rights housing laws including:

· The application of “minimum income” rental requirements that are not sufficiently tailored to take proper and proportional account of rent subsidies, housing vouchers, rental assistance, or other similar sources of lawful income specifically designed to alleviate some or all of a tenant’s rental cost;

· The application of inflexible or no-exception policies that effectively exclude housing opportunities for persons with conviction or arrest records, except those specifically permitted under federal law;

· The application of inflexible or no-exception rental policies placing restrictions on the maximum number of occupants greater than those required by federal, state, and/or local laws, which may unreasonably limit or exclude housing opportunities for certain families with children

· The selective inquiry about, or request for information and/or documentation of, a prospective tenant’s or buyer’s immigration status, based on the person’s national origin, race, or any other protected status.

The housing memorandum is available here. Anyone seeking additional information about state and federal housing laws, or who has questions -- including how to report a complaint – are urged to visit the Division on Civil Rights Web site at or contact the Division’s Housing Hotline at (866) 405-3050.

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