« Return to News

New law prevents city landlords from refusing tenants based on income – WHEC

New law prevents city landlords from refusing tenants based on income

by: WHEC

June 22, 2017 11:39 PM

This week, the Rochester City Council passed a measure Tuesday night that makes it illegal to turn away tenants because of income.

The city council wants to level the playing field for people who pay for their rent with Section 8 vouchers and other government programs that help families in need pay their rent. City leaders say too often these people are turned away for that reason alone.

“If Section 8 says they’ll pay a certain amount and the apartment goes for that amount, why can’t I get it,” asks Rodney Fudge.

Fudge is a retired Army veteran. In 2013, he found himself homeless. But thanks to a transitional housing program he qualified for, called HUD/VASH, he landed an apartment.

He wants to move to a better place, however, he says many landlords have turned him down.

“I think it would be a good idea if they would just treat us with some dignity and honor,” said Fudge. “I want to be treated fairly. I don’t want any special privileges. I can pay my own way, but I want to be treated fairly.”

The Rochester City Council Tuesday night made it illegal for landlords to deny prospective tenants based on income. Landlords can deny them for other reasons like evictions, or poor credit however.

One landlord who did not want to be on camera told us tenants are turned away often because of the red tape connected to programs like Section 8 and DSS. Joel Kunkler heads the Housing Council’s landlord/tenant services.

Joel Kunkler, Housing Council: “There is paperwork and there is a process and the difference between me as a landlord renting to a fair market tenant to renting to a Section 8 tenant. There is an extra layer of paperwork involved and sometimes it’s confusing and sometimes it’s frustrating.”

Kunkler however says Section 8 is a great way for tenants to get better quality housing in safe neighborhoods. “It’s been really rough.”

Kim Fagan thought she was going to end up homeless after searching for a place for three months. She says this new law gives her hope. “It’s going to open up some doors because I had a lot of doors slammed in my face. I think it still has a long way to go.”