New York Reasonable Modification and Accommodation Law

New York has a new notice and disclosure requirement to tenants that landlords and real estate agents must comply with as of May 2022. The purpose of this new regulation is to make sure tenants with disabilities understand their rights as it relates to getting reasonable modifications and accommodations to/at their homes.

In plain English this means such things as getting reasonable modifications to the bathroom or an wheelchair ramp, or reasonable modifications of a condo or co-op building’s house rules that allow a disabled person equal opportunity to use and enjoy their home and the common areas.

Download a template Notice for Requesting Reasonable Accommodations:

Landlord version (Word) | Real Estate Agent version (PDF)

What is New York's Reasonable Modification and Accommodation Law?

The Reasonable Modification and Accommodation Law was signed into effect on December 2, 2020 by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and is a tenant disclosure and notice requirement for any housing accommodations.

More specifically, the law added paragraphs 2-b and 18-a to Section 296 of the Executive Law, also known as New York’s Human Rights Law. The paragraphs actually have identical requirements, with the only difference being that 2-b is applicable for public housing and 18-a is applicable for all other housing.

New York’s Executive Law Section 296 18-a states that: “Every owner, lessee, sub-lessee, assignee, or managing agent of, or other person having the right of ownership of or possession of or the right to rent or lease housing accommodations shall disclose to all tenants and prospective tenants of their right to request reasonable modifications and accommodations if they have a disability pursuant to subdivision eighteen of this section. Such disclosure shall be made in writing in such form and manner as the division may by regulation prescribe and provided to all current tenants within thirty days of the beginning of their tenancy, or thirty days from the effective date of this subdivision for current tenants. Such disclosure shall also be conspicuously posted in such form and manner as the division may by regulation prescribe on every vacant housing accommodation that is available for rent.”

Note that this new disclosure and notice requirement does not apply to purchases of real estate or any other types of rentals, such as commercial leasing.

What is New York's Reasonable Modification and Accommodation Law? Who needs to comply? When do notices need to be sent? Sample notice & more.

Fortunately for real estate industry participants, the NYS Division of Human Rights published final regulations on May 18, 2022 that provided guidance for compliance. The regulations provided examples of reasonable accommodations, definitions and a sample copy of a notice.

It defines “housing accommodation” as any building, structure, or portion thereof which is used or occupied or is intended, arranged or designed to be used or occupied, as the home, residence or sleeping place of one or more human beings” per Human Rights Law Section 292.10.

The regulations set forth in 466.15(c)(5) stipulates what constitutes “reasonable modifications or accommodations” and along with NYS Human Rights Law §296.2-a(d) and §296.18 regulates what would be unlawful discriminatory practices for a housing provider:

(i) To refuse to permit, at the expense of the person with a disability, reasonable modifications of existing premises occupied or to be occupied by the said person, if the modifications may be necessary to afford the said person full enjoyment of the premises, in conformity with the pro visions of the New York state uniform fire prevention and building code, except that, in the case of a rental, the landlord may, where it is reasonable to do so, condition permission for a modification on the renter’s agreeing to restore the interior of the premises to the condition that existed before the modification, reasonable wear and tear excepted.
(ii) To refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, including the use of an animal as a reasonable accommodation to alleviate symptoms or effects of a disability, and including reasonable modification to common use portions of the dwelling, or
(iii) In connection with the design and construction of covered multi-family dwellings for first occupancy after March thirteenth, nineteen hundred ninety-one, a failure to design and construct dwellings in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the New York state uniform fire prevention and building code, to provide that:
(a) The public use and common use portions of the dwellings are readily accessible to and usable by disabled persons with disabilities;
(b) All the doors are designed in accordance with the New York state uniform fire prevention and building code to allow passage into and within all premises and are sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons in wheelchairs; and
(c) All premises within covered multi-family dwelling units contain an accessible route into and through the dwelling; light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls are in accessible locations; there are reinforcements in the bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars; and there are usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space, in conformity with the New York state uniform fire prevention and building code.

Who needs to comply with the new housing accommodation law?

Both real estate licensees (i.e. real estate agents) and housing providers (i.e. landlords) need to comply with this new law, and provide a notice to tenants that explains the rights a disabled individual has to request reasonable accommodations and modifications to or in their housing.

Licensees include real estate brokers and their associated licensed real estate salespersons and licensed associate a real estate brokers in their practice. Housing providers include the owners, lessees, sub-lessees, assignees or managing agents of housing accommodations, whether they be publicly-assisted housing accommodation or not.

In practical terms, this means individual, non-professional landlords are impacted and not just professional landlords of large rental apartment buildings.

What about individual condo unit owners?

We actually asked the Brooklyn MLS legal team for guidance on this, since often times the managing agent of a condo building will already post this notice to all residents of this building, and may send out the notice to all residents (i.e. owners and tenants) via an email blast.

We asked whether an individual condo unit owner renting out their unit still needs to notify their tenant when the building management company has already done so. In their opinion, it seems either option should be fine, but to be sure, owners can always contact the NY Department of State to double-check.

When do notices need to be provided to tenants or prospective tenants?

For licensees, this notice must be provided to prospective tenants at “first substantial contact,” just like the NY Agency Disclosure Form and the NY Housing and Anti-Discrimination Form need to be provided to tenants and buyers at “first substantive contact.”

Landlords must provide this notice within 30 days of tenancy, or for existing tenants within 30 days of the effective date of Executive Law section 170-d.

Disclosure requirements for real estate licensees

More specifically, here’s what 9 NYCRR §466.15(d)(2) says about delivery of notice requirements for real estate agents and brokers:

A real estate broker shall be responsible to ensure that each individual licensed pursuant to Article 12-A of the New York Real Property Law and associated with such broker provides notice with regard to available housing accommodations, as provided for in this Regulation, to all prospective tenants in the following manner:
(i) Upon first substantive contact.
(ii) In writing, and in 12-point font or larger, or other easily legible font.
(iii) By email, text, electronic messaging system, facsimile, or hardcopy. An electronic communication containing a link to the notice required pursuant to this regulation shall be permissible, provided the communication also contains text to inform the prospective tenant that the link contains information regarding tenants’ rights to reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. The notice must be available for printing and downloading.
(iv) Where such communication is in paper form, the notice must be included within such communication, or by providing the notice in an accompanying document.
(v) Oral disclosure does not satisfy the requirements imposed by this section.
(vi) “Posting” of the notice pursuant to paragraph (d)(3) of this subdivision, either on paper, on a bulletin board, or on an electronic bulletin board or notice area, does not satisfy the requirements imposed by this section.

Additional, real estate brokers are required to also post the notice per §466.15(d)(3):
(i) As required by 9 NYCRR 466.3; and
(ii) all websites created and maintained by housing providers shall prominently and conspicuously display on the homepage of such website a link to the Division’s notice as required this regulation which shall be made available by the Division.

9 NYCRR 466.3(a) & (c) sets forth the following posting regulations and requirements for brokers:

(a) Notices at housing accommodations.
(1) Every person being the owner, lessee, sub-lessee, assignee, or managing agent of housing accommodations subject to the Human Rights Law, shall post and maintain at such accommodations, notices furnished by the Division of Human Rights, indicating the substantive provisions of the Human Rights Law relative to housing accommodations, the place where complaints may be filed and such other information as the Division of Human Rights deems pertinent.
(2) Such notices must be posted conspicuously in easily accessible and well-lighted places at the housing accommodations, where they may be readily observed by those seeking such housing accommodations and/or facilities or services in connection therewith.

(c) Notices at real estate offices.
(1) Every person being a real estate broker or real estate salesman who has an office or office space in which he conducts his real estate transactions shall display and maintain at such office or in such office space notices furnished by the Division of Human Rights, indicating the substantive provisions of the Human Rights Law relative to housing accommodations and commercial space, the place where complaints may be filed and such other information as the Division of Human Rights deems pertinent.
(2) Such notices must be posted conspicuously at the real estate offices in easily accessible and well-lighted places, where the notices may be readily observed by those seeking housing accommodations or commercial space.

For the avoidance of doubt, we recommend tenant’s agents to also provide this notice to their prospective tenant clients so they are aware of their rights under these new laws and regulations in New York.

Disclosure requirements for landlords and housing providers

Per 9 NYCRR 466.15(d)(1), all housing providers that are the owner, lessee, sub-lessee, assignee or managing agent of a housing accommodation must provide notice per this regulation to all new and current tenants in the following way:

(i) Within 30 days of the effective date of their tenancy;
(ii) for current tenants, within thirty days after the effective date of Executive Law section 170-d.
(iii) In writing, and in 12-point font or larger, or other easily legible font.
(iv) Include telephone number(s) and e-mail of the property manager or other person responsible for accepting reasonable accommodation requests.
(v) By email, text, electronic messaging system, facsimile, or hardcopy. An electronic communication containing a link to the notice required pursuant to this regulation shall be permissible, provided the communication also contains text to inform the prospective tenant that the link contains information regarding tenants’ rights to reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. The notice must be available for printing and downloading.
(vi) Where such communication is in paper form, the notice must be included within such communication, or by providing the notice in an accompanying document.
(vii) May be accomplished by including the notice in or with other written communications, such as a lease or other written materials routinely provided to tenants.
(viii) Oral disclosure does not satisfy the requirements imposed by this section.
(ix) “Posting” of the notice pursuant to paragraph (d)(3) of this subdivision, either on paper, on a bulletin board, or on an electronic bulletin board or notice area, does not satisfy the requirements imposed by this section.

Pro Tip: Landlords and housing providers must also post the notice pursuant to 9 NYCRR 466.3.

Sample Notice of Reasonable Modification and Accommodation

NOTICE DISCLOSING TENANTS’ RIGHTS TO REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Reasonable Accommodations

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.

To request a reasonable accommodation, you should contact your property manager by calling ______________ or ______________, or by e-mailing ______________. You will need to show your housing provider that you have a disability or health problem that interferes with your use of housing, and that your request for accommodation may be necessary to provide you equal access and opportunity to use and enjoy your housing or the amenities and services normally offered by your housing provider.

If you believe that you have been denied a reasonable accommodation for your disability, or that you were denied housing or retaliated against because you requested a reasonable accommodation, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights as described at the end of this notice.

Specifically, if you have a physical, mental, or medical impairment, you can request:
• Permission to change the interior of your housing unit to make it accessible (however, you are required to pay for these modifications, and in the case of a rental your housing provider may require that you restore the unit to its original condition when you move out);
• Changes to your housing provider’s rules, policies, practices, or services;
• Changes to common areas of the building so you 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 New York State Human Rights Law include:
• If you have a mobility impairment, your housing provider may be required to provide you with a ramp or other reasonable means to permit you to enter and exit the building.
• If your doctor provides documentation that having an animal will assist with your disability, you should be permitted to have the animal in your home despite a “no pet” rule.
• If you need grab bars in your bathroom, you can request permission to install them at your own expense. If your housing was built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 and the walls need to be reinforced for grab bars, your housing provider must pay for that to be done.
• If you have an impairment that requires a parking space close to your unit, you can request your housing provider to provide you with that parking space, or place you at the top of a waiting list if no adjacent spot is available.
• If you have a visual impairment and require printed notices in an alternative format such as large print font, or need notices to be made available to you electronically, you can request that accommodation from your landlord.

Required Accessibility Standards

All buildings constructed for use after March 13, 1991, are required to meet the following standards:
• Public and common areas must be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;
• All doors must be sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons in wheelchairs; and
• All multi-family buildings must contain accessible passageways, fixtures, outlets, thermostats, bathrooms, and kitchens.

If you believe that your building does not meet the required accessibility standards, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights.

How to File a Complaint

A complaint must be filed with the Division within one year of the alleged discriminatory act. You can find more information on your rights, and on the procedures for filing a complaint, by going to www.dhr.ny.gov, or by calling 1-888-392-3644 with questions about your rights. You can obtain a complaint form on the website, or one can be e-mailed or mailed to you. You can also call or e-mail a Division regional office. The regional offices are listed on the website.

The above is a sample of notice language that is compliant with Human Rights Law § 296.2-b and § 296.18-a. Any other notice used by a housing provider or licensee must comply with the requirements of the law.

In the event that a real estate licensee wishes to present this notice, but does not have the contact information of the appropriate owner, lessee, sub-lessee, assignee or managing agent as required per the notice, then the sentence may instead read “To request a reasonable accommodation, you should contact your property manager.”

When contact information is known or when provided directly by a housing provider:

“To request a reasonable accommodation, you should contact your property manager by calling ______________ or ______________, or by e-mailing ______________.”

When contact information is not known when provided by a real estate licensee:

“To request a reasonable accommodation, you should contact your property manager.”

Disclosure: Hauseit® and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. No representation, guarantee or warranty of any kind is made regarding the completeness or accuracy of information provided.

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