New York housing law on illegal aliens
July 20, 2009 5:30 PM   Subscribe

Is it illegal in New York State to rent to illegal aliens?

Should illegal aliens be upfront with their status to potential landlords while searching for a place to rent? This is assuming there is no credit or background check being done and all payments are made in cash.
posted by pinksoftsoap to Law & Government (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Barring whether it is legal or not legal to rent to illegal aliens, what landlord wouldn't check at least the ID of a potential renter(s)? I'm not a landlord, but I wouldn't rent to anyone who couldn't or wouldn't produce a valid ID, whether that ID is a driver's license, a passport or a green card. A lack of ID would ring some warning bells for me (i.e., that the potential tenant is a criminal, on the lam from the law, etc.).
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 5:35 PM on July 20, 2009


Should illegal aliens be upfront with their status

Not unless they want to get reported. I would say that in their own self-interest, it's not a great idea to advertise that they are illegally in the US. But I like it's unlikely that they would be able to rent.
posted by anniecat at 5:39 PM on July 20, 2009


I had some residences in college where the only ID my landlord required me to show was the crisp green Benjamins that identified me as a paying tenant.

I have never heard of a law requiring a landlord to check ID, but in this crazy-ass Homeland Security police state we live in, maybe there is one.
posted by jayder at 5:41 PM on July 20, 2009


How would a landlord know who was in the US legally and who not? I mean with employing you can determine if people are eligible to work in the US by their social security card, which will have a note to that effect if the person is not eligible to work. I assume it's hiring someone not eligible to work that is illegal, regardless of whether said people are in the US legally or not. That is, an employer would get in trouble for hiring a person who is living in the US legally but is not eligible to work in the US, but that person is still entitled to rent an apartment.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:42 PM on July 20, 2009


I had some residences in college where the only ID my landlord required me to show was the crisp green Benjamins that identified me as a paying tenant.

And I have a friend who almost (illegally) moved into the attic of a Chinese laundry in NYC. The only English the potential landlord seemed to speak was, "Four hundred." That dude didn't seem to care if my friend was an NYU student or the Unibomber. My friend wound up not taking the place, since the toilet was installed in the middle of the living room, the only running water was from a hose snaked out the window of a lower floor, and there were no cooking facilities.

But, it is clear that an illegal alien can rent.

I don't know if it's legal, though. (Even if the apartment itself is legal.) But if I were illegal, I sure as shit wouldn't mention it to anyone.
posted by Netzapper at 5:48 PM on July 20, 2009


I don't think a landlord is responsible for checking the immigration status of his / her tenants. Crazier things have happened, though.

(Of course a landlord might want some kind of documentation from tenants, to make sure they are likely to pay.)
posted by grobstein at 6:13 PM on July 20, 2009


It's pretty common for illegal aliens to rent 'illegal' apartments. (Places that are not official, up to code, etc.) It creates an equilibrium where neither side wants to turn the other one in because they don't want to talk to the Law themselves. Also works because illegals tend to make less money than legal workers and are more willing to pay less rent for someones closet, attic, garage or shed.

Should illegal aliens be upfront with their status to potential landlords while searching for a place to rent?


Should? That would be fabulous, wouldn't it? Not going to happen in a million years. I am in no way a lawyer, but it just makes sense to me that anyone who knowingly helps keep an illegal alien in the country would be in for some legal pain. If the authorities wanted to apply it. In reality they almost never do.
posted by Ookseer at 6:31 PM on July 20, 2009


My sister lives in NYC. She once had a landlord who she was pretty sure was an illegal immigrant.

Barring whether it is legal or not legal to rent to illegal aliens, what landlord wouldn't check at least the ID of a potential renter(s)?

Someone who was desperate for a tenant? The real estate market isn't exactly popping right now.

Also, Since when is a foreign passport or driver's license not an ID? And some states do allow Illegal immigrants to get Driver's licenses: Washington, Illinois and New Mexico allow Illegal Immigrants to get licenses, and Hawaii allows them to get State IDs.
posted by delmoi at 6:31 PM on July 20, 2009


There are some states in the US that have made it illegal to rent to illegal aliens.

I don't know if New York is among them.

Yes, I don't understand how legislators expect landlords to be able to determine who is a legal versus illegal alien versus citizen, but then "politician" does not mean "intelligent."
posted by dfriedman at 7:03 PM on July 20, 2009


I am not the OP's lawyer. This is from a manual (PDF, p. 27) on state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's website:
DISCRIMINATION

Landlords may not refuse to rent to, renew the lease of, or otherwise discriminate against, any person or group of persons because of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, marital status or familial status. In New York City, tenants are further protected against discrimination with respect to lawful occupation, sexual orientation, partnership status and immigration status. People with AIDS or who are HIV-positive, as well as recovering alcoholics, are also protected from discrimination. Further, NYC landlords are prohibited from discriminating against tenants based on lawful source of income which includes income from social security or any form of federal, state or local public assistance including section 8 vouchers. Executive Law § 296(5); NYC Admin. Code § 8-107. (Emphasis added.)
Note that the bolded bit about immigration status only refers to New York City law, not New York State law. I would not, however, assume that other jurisdictions outside NYC do not protect against discrimination with respect to immigration status. Rather, this manual is probably not a comprehensive canvas of every single town and county law in the state. So I would suggest consulting the laws of whichever jurisdiction you are concerned with.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:10 PM on July 20, 2009


what landlord wouldn't check at least the ID of a potential renter(s)?

I suspect that any illegal alien who doesn't have some kind of id (be it fake, or id theft, or borrowed for the day, or whatever) is just doing it wrong.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:29 PM on July 20, 2009


I dont think you can ask if they are legal or not but if you know they are illegal you would accept that if they cant pay you wont be able to colelct back rent from them.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:58 AM on July 21, 2009


With no credit check, regardless of whether the rent is paid with cash or a check, I don't see any reason why either party would bring it up.
posted by lampoil at 7:36 AM on July 21, 2009


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