Q: I represent an owner who is looking to lease her condominium to a foreign diplomat. Is there a way for a diplomat to waive his diplomatic immunity so that he can potentially be sued in the United States?
A: Diplomatic immunity removes certain foreign government officials from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. It is unlikely that a diplomat can waive his diplomatic immunity as the status of diplomatic immunity belongs to the country sending the diplomats and not to the diplomats themselves. Because it is unusual for a country to waive diplomatic immunity, a landlord may want to use other methods to protectherself since going to court is not a practical option.
Important Tip: Occupation, national origin and citizenship are protected fair housing categories in New York City so a landlord may not discriminate against tenants based on these factors. Diplomatic immunity, however, is a status and is not a protected fair housing category.
Neil B. Garfinkel
REBNY Broker Counsel
Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP