Co-ops and Foreign Citizens

December 11, 2017 | By Charles Botensten

Q: Can a Co-op in New York City reject a prospective purchaser based solely on the fact that the purchaser is not a citizen of the United States?

A: No, Co-ops in New York City cannot reject a prospective purchaser solely because the purchaser is not a citizen of the United States. 

Co-ops must comply with the provisions of all federal, state and local fair housing laws.  The Federal Fair Housing Act, the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law all list “national origin” as a protected class.  Furthermore, New York City Human Rights Law lists “citizenship” as a protected class.  Accordingly, these fair housing laws prohibit housing providers (which definition includes owners, real estate agents, managing agents, building superintendents, cooperative and condominium boards) from discriminating against a prospective purchaser of a co-op in New York City because of the purchaser’s national origin or citizenship.

Important Tip:  There is no restriction on a non-United States citizen from owning real estate in the United States nor is there any requirement that a non-United States citizen ever have a physical presence in the United States in order to own such real estate.

The Legal Line Question by:
Neil B. Garfinkel
REBNY Broker Counsel

Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP