Along with all of the other changes 2020-2021 brought to laws and regulations for landlords, New York State added two new notice requirements for landlords to comply with: providing all tenants and applicants with (1) notice of reasonable accommodations and (2) a fair housing disclosure.
NOTICE OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
Effective as of March 2, 2021, housing providers/owners are required to make reasonable accommodations or modifications to the building and/or the provider’s policies to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities, (this is in addition to ADA standards for occupancy for buildings constructed after March 13, 1991) and to provide notice to all tenants of availability of such accommodations and modifications.
The required notice must include the housing provider’s contact information for the tenant to make a request for reasonable accommodations and information for the tenant to contact the New York State Division of Human Rights to file a complaint for denial or retaliation related to tenant’s request.
Examples of reasonable accommodations/modifications are things that would allow tenants with disabilities equal use and enjoyment of their home such as assigning a more easily accessible parking space for a person with mobility impairment, installing a grab bar in a tenant’s bathroom, permitting transfer to a more easily accessible vacant unit, and allowing weekly rent payments or a different due date for monthly rent. Housing providers may require that tenants pay for modifications and restore the unit to its condition prior to the modification when the tenant moves out.
A tenant making a request for an accommodation or modification must be able to show the necessity for such request. If the need for the accommodation and/or modification is not readily apparent or obvious, the housing provider may request only the information necessary to evaluate the tenant’s need (such as a letter from a doctor or third-party familiar with the tenant’s needs).
The notice (link to sample form below) should have been given to tenants by April 1, 2021, and to all new tenants within 30 days of the beginning of their lease term. The housing provider must also be able to prove that it was given to each tenant (via saved sent email, or acknowledgement signed by tenant).
FAIR HOUSING DISCLOSURE
Effective as of June 20, 2020, New York requires all real estate professionals (property owner or manager, real estate agent) to provide a fair housing disclosure to all applicants/prospective tenants and/or clients. The form is provided by New York State here.
The disclosure states that it is unlawful for any real estate professional to discriminate based on a list of protected characteristics and lists instances which would be violations of Fair Housing and Anti-discrimination laws (for example, discrimination based on a protected characteristic because of the seller’s or the landlord’s preference; “steering” toward or away from certain neighborhoods; or expressing discrimination by any statement, advertisement, application or inquiry). The disclosure also provides steps and contact information for the NYS Division of Human Rights and NYS Department of State, Division of Licensing Services for individuals to file a complaint if they believe that they have been the victim of housing discrimination.
Real estate professionals are required to provide this disclosure to applicants/prospective tenants/clients “at first substantive contact.” It is good practice to provide the disclosure as early as possible during the very first conversation. Many real estate professionals include a link to the disclosure in the signature block of their emails. The disclosure must also be conspicuously posted in the owner/manager/agent’s physical office. Proof of providing the disclosure must be kept by the owner/manager/agent for 3 years. The disclosure contains an acknowledgement to be signed by the applicant/client. If the applicant/client refuses to sign, the owner/manager/agent can sign an affidavit with the details of providing the disclosure and keep that for the required 3 years.