All residential building owners are now required to disclose to all tenants and prospective tenants of their right to request reasonable modifications and accommodations if they have a disability.
The law, which went into effect on March 2nd, requires building owners to provide a notice that outlines these rights to all tenants and prospective tenants within 30 days of the beginning of their tenancy, or thirty days from the effective date of the law for all tenants that were living in the building prior to March 2, 2021.
With regard to reasonable accommodations, the new provision in the State Human Rights Law states:
“The New York State Human Rights Law requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations or modifications to a building or living space to meet the needs of people with disabilities. For example, if you have a physical, mental, or medical impairment, you can ask your housing provider to make the common areas of your building accessible, or to change certain policies to meet your needs.”
Tenants will need to provide proof to the building owner that they have a disability or health problem that interferes with their use of housing. Specifically, if a tenant has a physical, mental, or medical impairment, they may request:
• Permission to change the interior of the unit to make it accessible (however, the tenant is required to pay for these modifications, and in the case of a rental unit, the property owner may require that the tenant restore the unit to its original condition upon vacancy);
• Changes to the building owner’s rules, policies, practices, or services;
• Changes to common areas of the building so that they may have an equal opportunity to use the building. The New York State Human Rights Law requires housing providers to pay for reasonable modifications to common use areas.
Examples of reasonable modifications and accommodations that may be requested under the State Human Rights Law include:
• If a tenant has a mobility impairment, the property owner may be required to provide the tenant with a ramp or other reasonable means to enter and exit the building.
• If a tenant’s doctor provides documentation that having an animal will assist with their disability, a tenant should be permitted to have the animal in the apartment despite a “no pet” rule that may be in place.
• If a tenant needs grab bars in any bathroom, a tenant may request permission to install them at their own expense. If the building was built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 and the walls need to be reinforced for grab bars, the building owner must pay for the installation.
• If a tenant has an impairment that requires a parking space close to their unit, the tenant may request a parking space or ask the building owner to place them at the top of a waiting list if no adjacent spot is available.
• If a tenant has a visual impairment and requires printed notices in an alternative format (such as large print font or need notices to be made available to you electronically), a tenant may request that accommodation from the building owner.
RSA has prepared sample notices for our members and they are now available on our website in English and Spanish. You may provide these sample notices as is to your tenants. You can access the notices by clicking here and logging in with your RSA website credentials.