Co-ops Face June 17 Deadline to Post Accommodation Rights for Disabled Residents
Last year the state Legislature passed a law that requires qualifying housing providers — including co-op boards and landlords — to provide written notice to their shareholders and tenants of their rights to reasonable accommodations and modifications. The new law also required the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) to promulgate regulations regarding its notice requirements. It has taken almost a year for the DHR to accomplish this, but they have finally provided their rules.
And the deadline is looming. The notice must be given to existing residents by June 17, and within 30 days of occupancy for all future residents.
Specifically, on May 18, 2022, the DHR issued new rules regarding the required written notice that a qualifying “Housing Provider,” (i.e., “owner, lessee, sub-lessee, assignee, or managing agent of, or other person having the right to sell, rent or lease a housing accommodation…”) will have to provide to their existing and new tenants regarding their right to request a reasonable accommodation or modification. As a reminder, a reasonable “accommodation” is a change in rules and policies necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use an apartment, such as permitting emotional support animals in no-pet buildings, or assigning a parking space to a disabled resident who may not be next on the waiting list. On the other hand, a reasonable “modification” is a physical change to the building, such as installing ramps, automatic doors and grab bars.
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Housing providers that are required to provide such notice include all co-ops, rental properties and other community associations that are renting out residential housing. For example, a condo board or homeowners association is not subject to the notice requirement — unless it owns a unit and is leasing it for home residency. Commercial tenancies are not included under the notice requirement. The following is a summary of the notice requirements:
• The notice must be in 12-point font (or other easily legible font).
• It must include the telephone number and e-mail address of the property manager or other person responsible for receiving accommodation and modification requests.
• It may be sent electronically, by email, fax or other means. Links are acceptable provided the notice can be downloaded and printed.
• It must be posted physically, but posting the notice does not satisfy the requirement to send the notice to all existing and future residents.
• It may be sent along with other documents, such as leases and application documents.
• If you have a community website, you must post the notice or a link to it on the homepage of your website.
The DHR has provided a 20-paragraph sample notice, which it deems sufficient. However, in our opinion, the sample notice goes well beyond what is required under the law. In the March 2022 comments section of the rules, the DHR clearly stated the sample notice is just that — a sample. In our opinion, we believe this means that co-ops and landlords are free to create their own notice that meets the statutory requirements and the DHR rules. Co-ops and landlords should consult their attorneys to prepare the proper notice.
Marc Schneider is the managing partner at the law firm Schneider Buchel.