New NYS Housing Act Requires Notice of Disability Housing Fee, But Sample Agency Form Raises Concern for City Buildings | Seyfarth Shaw LLP

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Synopsis of Seyfarth: Co-ops and residential property owners in New York State are required by new law to notify tenants in writing of their right to request reasonable accommodations or modifications based on disability by Thursday, April 1, 2021 .

What the new law requires

The new law (here) amends the existing provisions of section 296 of the New York State Human Rights Act (“NYSHRL”) prohibiting discrimination in housing on the basis of disability. Housing providers should send written notice to current and potential tenants of their ‘right to request reasonable modifications or accommodations if they have a disability.[.]In addition, the law requires prominent posting of the notice. No later than April 1, 2021, housing providers must send or deliver the required written notice to existing tenants and must prominently post this notice in the building. Thereafter, new tenants must receive written notice within 30 days of the start of their tenancy.

The specific form of the notice, as well as the details of the posting conditions, are subject to implementing regulations by the New York State Division of Human Rights (“Division), which does not have not yet been published. What the Division has issued is a model notification form (here). Notably, the Division’s template form provides not only statements that tenants with disabilities can request accommodations by law, but also examples of such requests, accessible design requirements for buildings covered, and how to file claims. complaints against housing providers who do not comply.

Which housing providers are covered?

The new law applies to any housing provider who rents apartments, units or houses, including, but not limited to, subsidized housing. Residents eligible for notice would include, for example, shareholders and subtenants of co-ops, tenants of rental apartment buildings, and tenants of single and multi-family homes. It does not appear that condominiums are required to provide notice to unit owners, since the law restricts the obligation to “tenants” (however, owners of individual condominium units who rent or lease their units may have the obligation to comply as owner).

Conclusion

For New York City buildings, it is important to note that there are important distinctions between the NYSHRL and the New York City Human Rights Act (the “City Law”) . City law has been interpreted to provide more extensive anti-discrimination protections for residents with disabilities than the NYSHRL, including passing more costs associated with accommodation to the housing provider. In our opinion, although the website of the Division indicates that the model form conforms to the new law, some examples provided do not necessarily conform to the requirements of the municipal law in force and, in this regard, are likely to lend confusing. Distributing a direct mail with sample accommodations can also impact the number of inquiries and related inquiries that housing providers receive. Providers of covered housing should consult an experienced lawyer to determine how to meet the requirements of the new law.


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