A case in the New York State Supreme Court, Manhattan County (trial court) involves a common interest community board’s rejection of an unmarried heterosexual man, as he was deemed “not financially qualified”, and its approval of the woman he was in a relationship with. The cooperative board advised the couple that the rejected man was free to live in the apartment, but would be prohibited from signing the cooperative lease or owning cooperative shares. This couple contended that had they been married, their applications would have been treated jointly, with the pair’s financial status considered together. The couple filed a suit against the cooperative, contending that they had suffered discrimination as a result of their marital status. Although most of the couple’s lawsuit was dismissed, the essential portion related to the different treatment will proceed.

It is expected that if this case proceeds to the court system, it could impact cooperatives and their ability to treat unmarried couples differently than those with a marriage license. New York City’s administrative code prohibits the denial of housing based on an applicant’s marital status, but current law also essentially allows for cooperatives to avoid releasing the reasons behind a rejected buyer application.

Read a related New York Times article here.