Bill would let state revoke brokers’ licences for discrimination

Lawmakers near finish line for measure sparked by Newday investigation

The state would get the power to suspend or revoke the license of real estate agents under a new bill targeting discriminatory practices.

The Senate approved the bill overwhelmingly Wednesday, 59 votes to 1. The Assembly is expected to pass it today.

The bill was sparked by a 2019 Newsday investigation that revealed widespread race discrimination in Long Island’s housing market, including agents steering buyers to certain neighborhoods based on their race.

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The bill’s passage comes as the real estate industry is reckoning with its record on race and diversity, with several brokerage chiefs vowing to implement change.

Currently, the state can suspend or revoke licenses or issue fines for certain infractions, including misleading advertising and fraud. The new bill would add “violation of the human rights law” to that list.

“This legislation will ensure that real estate agents who violate New York’s Human Rights Law by ‘steering’ minority families toward certain communities, or other racist practices that deny individuals the dignity of choosing their home and neighborhood, face license revocation,” the lead sponsor of the bill, Long Island Democrat James Gaughran, said in a statement.

[Newsday] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan