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March 19, 2021
NEW STATE LAW REQUIRES NOTICE TO ALL TENANTS OF THEIR REASONABLE ACCOMODATION RIGHTS

In December 2020, New York State enacted new legislation requiring ALL landlords to notify ALL tenants of their respective rights regarding the right to request reasonable accommodations for disabilities in housing. This includes co-ops.  There is both a mailing and posting requirement.

The new law requires a "Reasonable Accommodation Notice" be given to all existing and future residential tenants. While the new law is applicable to cooperatives and rentals of all sizes, condominiums and homeowner associations do not need to provide this notice to their unit owners but unit owners or homeowners who rent their units need to provide this notice to their tenants.   A sample Notice has been circulated by the State Division of Human Rights; we believe it requires modifications for landlords and co-ops located within New York City because the  NYC Human Rights Law has broader protections for the disabled than those given under State law.  Simply using the State form will result in inaccurate information being delivered to City residents and could result in claims filed with the New York City Commission on Human Rights.  Our form - which can be used by either City or State co-ops and landlords - can be found and downloaded here.  Contact information should be filled in before distributing.

The notice must be sent to all existing residential tenants so it should be mailed to all shareholders by regular mail.  It must ALSO be posted in a public area of the building.  It is not a bad idea to require the shareholder to sign and return an acknowledgement of receipt.  Any new shareholder should sign the form as part of the closing package (we will be adding the form to our package for those buildings for whom we serve as transfer agent) and a copy should be included in any purchase or sublease application that the building sends out.  Managing agents should add this form to all transfer and subleasing packages that they send out.

The new law became effective March 2, 2021 and requires compliance by April 1, 2021.  This means that by April 1, the attached and completed notice should a) be posted in a public area of the building, b) sent to all tenants and subtenants in the building, c) delivered at closing to all new shareholders, and d) included in all sublease and transfer packages that are sent to new purchasers. 

The modifications to the State form to comply with City law are substantial; boards should be aware of the differences.  While State law provides that reasonable accommodations requiring alterations to a unit are at the expense of the person seeking the disability, City law requires the owner of the property to pay for that.  Within the City, the owner cannot compel the tenant to restore the premises to its prior condition at the end of the tenancy.

The City requires you to engage in a cooperative dialogue with the tenant over any requested accommodation; the City also takes the view that no requested accommodation is per se unreasonable. The landlord/co-op would have to show that the requested accommodation imposes an “undue hardship” on the owner.

If you have any questions about your obligations under this (or any other law), please reach out to us.

DOWNLOAD: REASONABLE ACCOMODATION NOTICE

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Tane Waterman & Wurtzel, P.C. · 120 Broadway Ste 948 · New York, NY 10271-0996 · USA

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