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A newly passed state law requires landlords to “remind” tenants of their rights (under the N.Y. Human Rights Law) and that the latter may request a reasonable housing accommodation if they are suffering from a disability.

Enacted March 2, 2021, the statute mandates that all residential landlords send a written notice to their tenants (and any prospective tenants) detailing their entitlement to “reasonable accommodations” (due to a physical or mental impairment) to facilitate the use of, and access to, their apartments and any common areas of the building.

The legislation was first presented to State Senator Brian A. Benjamin and Assembly Member Daniel J. O’Donnell in 2020 by the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Inc. (“NYLPI”) -- a NY-based non-profit organization that specializes in disability rights, access to health care, and environmental justice. The bill passed both the N.Y. Senate and the State Assembly with flying colors on July 21, 2020.

The legislation entrusts the New York State Division of Human Rights with the law's enforcement and makes clear that landlords must provide a written notice within 30 days of each new tenancy, and within 30 days of the law’s effective date (by April 1, 2021) for preexisting residents. Every vacant housing accommodation available for rent must also include a “conspicuously posted” notice informing prospective tenants of the right to request an accommodation from the owner.

A tenant suffering from a disability would need to provide the owner with documentation of the disability and list the proposed accommodation(s) sought – such as handle grab bars in the shower, ramps at the building’s entrance, or the ability to keep a service animal despite any “no pets” policy currently in effect.

The law applies to tenants and subtenants of condominiums, cooperatives, units held by Holders of Unsold Shares, tenants leasing out property in a Homeowners’ Association, as well as those renting out a one-, two- or three- family residence. Notice must also be given to any known occupant or licensee of those residential dwelling units, even if they are not formally deemed a “tenant.” (Landlords must maintain a record of each document's delivery in the event of an audit.)

In a press release, Manhattan State Senator Brian Benjamin expressed the need for this law: “Thirty years after the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, its promise of removing barriers for the disabled is still not delivered where it is needed. Often, renters have no idea that they are eligible for reasonable accommodations when they rent. This bill is a small step in the direction of helping people recognize their rights that we recognized so long ago.”

Tenants believing that they’ve been denied a reasonable accommodation, or have been denied housing for requesting such an accommodation, are encouraged to file a complaint with the NYS Division of Human Rights, or may contact one of our attorneys at 212-619-5400.

A copy of the required Notice (prepared by another law firm) can be found here: https://comms.herrick.com/44/1009/uploads/notice.pdf

Source: https://www.herrick.com/publications/effective-4-1-new-york-state-law-requires-residential-landlords-to-remind-tenants-of-reasonable-accommodations/