Hold on Enforcement: New York State Law Requires Residential Landlords to Remind Tenants of “Reasonable Accommodations”

March 22, 2021

Herrick’s Condominium and Cooperative Law Group has learned of a new State law which requires all residential landlords to send their tenants a formal written notice reminding them of their existing legal right to request “reasonable accommodations” to facilitate use of and access to their apartments and the premises’ common areas in light of physical or mental impairments. Apparently, the Legislature believes that residential tenants are insufficiently aware of their right to register such requests.

Update: The effective date of this new law was March 2, 2021. However, until New York State promulgates and publishes the proposed regulations as described below, the requirement of the Disclosure will not be enforced.

The following statement was shared by the NYS Department of State (DOS) and Division of Human Rights (DHR): 

"Governor Cuomo recently signed a new law repealing Executive Law §296(2-b)&(18-a) and replacing it with Executive Law §170-d. The new law requires the Division of Human Rights to promulgate regulations that would set forth requirements for compliance. As the new law was just signed, the Division of Human Rights has yet to publish the proposed regulations. Once published, the regulations would be subject to a 60-day comment period and would not become effective until formally adopted. The Division of Human Rights expects the statute to be adhered to upon final adoption of the regulations, and the Department of State intends to commence enforcement of the requirement to provide notice of reasonable modifications and accommodations following the final adoption of such regulations."

We are providing as part of this Alert, for your use, a proposed form of Notice which comports with all the statutory requirements as to content. The Notice must be sent to all current and prospective residential tenants, including coop shareholders, sub tenants of coop units, tenants of coop owned apartments, tenants of Holders of Unsold Shares, tenants and subtenants of condominium units and Homes in Homeowners’ Associations, as well as tenants in one, two and three family homes. The Notice must be sent to all residents who are occupying residential dwelling units, whether or not they are formally designated tenants. (i.e. Licensees, Occupants, etc.). The law apparently does not require notification to condominium unit owners or owners of Homes in Home Owner Associations.

Following are some recommendations to managing agents and board members of cooperative, condominium and Home Owner Association boards and transfer agents for Cooperatives and other residential landlords for compliance with this new regulation:

  1. Service of the Notice must be documented in the event of an audit. Ideally the Notice should be served by either Certified or Registered mail. At very least the person effecting service should prepare an affidavit attesting to the fact and date of service, the manner (i.e. first class mail) and the location of the box in which the envelope was deposited. The Notice should be mailed rather than simply slid under the tenant’s apartment door. Absentee coop shareholders must also be notified by mail.
  2. As already noted, tenants in coop, condo and HOA owned units must be notified.
  3. Even though the Association does not have a direct landlord tenant relationship with Coop sub tenants, rental tenants of Holders of Unsold Shares or condominium tenants, we recommend out of caution that these tenants be sent the Notice.
  4. As noted already the Notification requirement applies to prospective as well as current tenants.

We therefore recommend including a Notice form in each sales, sublet or condominium Waiver package along with a form acknowledgment to be signed by the prospective purchaser or tenant regarding his receipt and reading of the Notice, to be returned to the Association along with the remainder of the package. (The package would not be deemed complete without return of the acknowledgement). As a double layer of protection cooperative transfer agents should distribute a copy of the Notice to each in coming purchaser and receive back a similar signed acknowledgment.

  1. Although the law apparently does not require service of a Notice upon Condominium Unit Owners or HOA Homeowners, boards and managing agents might consider sending one, as service might provide a good defense to mitigate any claim by an aggrieved tenant or Human Rights agency regarding the failure to provide and/or notify of the right to a reasonable accommodation claim.

For more information on this issue or other condominium or cooperative matters, please contact:

Bruce A. Cholst at +1 212 592 1621 or [email protected]

@ 2021 Herrick, Feinstein LLP. This alert is provided by Herrick, Feinstein LLP to keep its clients and other interested parties informed of current legal developments that may affect or otherwise be of interest to them. The information is not intended as legal advice or legal opinion and should not be construed as such.