Christine Haughney hits that proverbial nail on the head in her latest column in the New York Times. In it, she takes on words and phrases that evoke discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.
One commonly encountered phrase portrays a property as “perfect for “empty nesters.” That’s like saying children are a no-no. And that’s against the law. “Fisherman’s retreat” — the Lincoln Tunnel? — also is questionable. Women need not apply?
Other words and phrases Haughney that flags include “bachelor pad,” “near churches” and “play area.”
The column omits at least one proxy for discriminatory words: “good schools,” which can be taken to mean “good neighborhood,” which can can be interpreted to imply a racial bias.
But my favorite transgression in Manhattan is “family apartment,” which suggests that two individuals, or even one, do not compose a family and that they therefore would not be welcome. Why skirt the law when the number of bedrooms says everything?
When it comes to discrimination, it is certain classes of people who are protected by the Fair Housing Act — e.g. race, religion, national origin, sex, age and family status. States and municipalities usually add other classes, one of the more obscure in D.C. being “matriculation,” which bars discrimination against students.
Her column bears reading as reminder to everyone. It also is good for a chuckle about the terms that we’d never see in the Big Apple. Country club?
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022