Cooperatives Required to Notify Tenants of Rights to Reasonable Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

June 3, 2022 Advisory

Under a 2021 New York State law (New York Executive Law Sec. 170-d), landlords, including cooperatives, must give written notice to all tenants and prospective tenants advising them that they have the right to request reasonable modifications and accommodations in order for them to fully enjoy their apartment and the building in which they reside (the Law). In May 2022, in accordance with the Law, the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) promulgated rules (Rules) as to the form of the notice required, and how and when it must be provided.

It should be noted that the Law adds only the notice requirement. It makes no substantive change in the New York State Human Rights Law, which requires disability accommodations. Landlords and co-op boards should be aware that disability accommodations required under New York City, New York State and federal law are not identical, therefore, more stringent requirements in the other laws may supersede the descriptions of required accommodations in the state promulgated notice, and rights provided by these other laws may restrict actions that would otherwise be permissible under the state law.

While the obligation to provide reasonable accommodations applies to all “housing providers” which is, in essence, every party who owns, manages or controls a housing accommodation (and that party’s agent), the Law directs that the notice be given only to tenants, not to all residents. The Law applies to co-ops, but not to condominiums, except to the unit owner when a unit is leased by the unit owner, and to the condominium itself if a unit is leased by the condominium to a third party.

The Rules provide that landlords must give notice that a tenant may make “reasonable modifications” to their apartment at their own cost, and that housing providers must make reasonable accommodations to common areas of the building at the landlord’s cost, if the alterations may be necessary to afford the tenant full enjoyment of the premises (subject to fire and building codes  and other applicable laws). The Rules would require notice that a request may also be made to permit “reasonable accommodations,” which are defined as “accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.”

The text of the required notice (Notice) is provided in the Rules. View a copy of the Notice. The Notice must be in writing, using no less than 12-point font, and must include a phone number and email address for the party responsible for accepting accommodation requests. The Notice must be delivered to new tenants no later than 30 days after the start of their tenancy. Though the deadline for distributing the notice to existing tenants is unclear, we recommend that the Notice be distributed to existing tenants as soon as practicable, but no later than June 17, 2022.  The Notice, which may be included with other written communications from the housing provider to the tenant, must also be posted in a common area, and if the housing provider has a website, it must be displayed on its homepage.

The Notice may be sent by email, text, electronic messaging system, facsimile or hardcopy. An electronic communication containing a link is permissible, provided the communication also contains text to inform the prospective tenant that the link contains information regarding tenants' rights to reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities, and provided the Notice may be downloaded and printed.

Should you have any questions about how this new law impacts your building, please contact one of our Cooperative and Condominium Law attorneys.

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