LIEB BLOG

Legal Media Analysts

Showing posts with label Fair Housing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fair Housing. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

New York Law Journal: Discrimination Boutique Takes on ADA Class Action on Behalf of Deaf Apartment Dwellers

Residents tried going to management directly, called on their elected leaders and on community organizers and even staged a demonstration outside of their homes that attracted media attention. Now one of them is going to the courts. Read the full article discussing the lawsuit that Lieb at Law, P.C. has brought to bring justice to the hearing impaired and deaf residents in this Manhattan building. 



*Attorney Advertising

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Major New RE Landlord / Tenant & Brokerage Regulatory Law in NYS - BOOM

New York tenants will be receiving new notices about their rights to reasonable modifications and accommodations for persons with disabilities as of today


The Division of Human Rights has officially adopted 9 NYCRR 466.15 - see our prior blog on the topic here


The new law places a tremendous onus, with awesome exposure, on the following people: "the owner, lessee, sub-lessee, assignee, or managing agent of, or other person having the right to sell, rent or lease a housing accommodation, constructed or to be constructed, or any agent or employee thereof." The law applies to both private property and publicly-assisted housing. 


There is a special section in the law just for real estate brokers, who are now obligated to provide the notice at the first point of substantive contact.


Plus, every obligee must also prominently and conspicuously display a link to the notice "on the homepage of such website." Unfortunately, the link, which is supposed to "be made available by the Division," is not so available. 


Nonetheless, here is the official notice and it's language (if you haven't realized it yet, housing providers and their real estate brokers better get up to speed on providing reasonable accommodations and modifications today. Failure-to-accommodate lawsuits are about to be filed with record speed / frequency): 


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 ______________. (note: brokers may delete "by calling ______________ or ______________, or by e-mailing ______________.)


You will need to inform 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. A housing provider may request medical information, when necessary to support that there is a covered disability and that the need for the accommodation is disability related. 


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 healthcare provider 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 or in court within three years 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. 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.




Friday, April 22, 2022

Housing Discrimination & Your Rights - What Victims Should Know

Discrimination in real estate is illegal throughout the United States and in certain states, like New York, there are even greater protections, rights, and damages available to victims.


Whether you were discriminated against by a seller, landlord, tenant co-op, condo, HOA, lender, real estate broker / salesperson, or property manager, you are entitled to compensation. This is true in housing and at places of public accommodation (i.e., shopping center, professional office, retail store, educational institution, recreational facility, and service center). This is often even true if the discrimination was unintentional or caused by the perpetrator's implicit biases.


Anti-discrimination rights and protections entitle victims to sue for compensation if discrimination occurred because of your protected status / protected class, which statuses / classes vary throughout the United States, but may include your race, ethnic background, visible traits (hair texture, hairstyle, donning of religious garments or items), color, national origin, citizenship status, alienage status, immigration status, lawful source of income (subsidy recipient status), occupation, religion, creed, marital status, partnership status, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (transgender status), domestic violence victim status, stalking victim status, sex offense victim status, familial status, pregnancy, presence of children, handicap (disability), age, military status, uniformed service, veteran status, first responder status, arrest record, and sealed conviction record.


The law prevents real estate / housing providers from changing the terms, conditions, privileges, and/or availability of property based on your protected class status. It requires real estate brokers / salespersons to give you written disclosures that advise you of your rights. It prevents you from being treated differently from others where only the terms of your offer matter, not who you are.


If you are handicapped / disabled, you are also entitled to receive reasonable accommodations (change to policies / procedures / rules) and reasonable modification (change to structure) so that you can equally use and enjoy property. Plus, your actual diagnosis need not be fully revealed and can remain confidential when you seek such an accommodation / modification. Better yet, the cost of the accommodation cannot be charged to you, and in places like New York City, this is also true for the cost of modifications. The most common handicap / disability cases that we see involve service animals / emotional support animals in no pet properties, preferential / parking and ingress / egress ramps for mobility impairments, and other failure-to-accommodate cases. We are also involved in ADA failure-to-remove barrier cases and more. When it comes to handicapped / disabled people, it's all about providing access. 


If you receive subsidies, like Section 8 (Housing Choice Vouchers), or you are unemployed (i.e., retired, spousal / child support recipient, trust fund baby, student, disabled), your source of income cannot impact your housing choices. You are protected from offensive signage, improper applications, and/or wrongful questionnaires if they inquire about your employment status, request your W-2, or even solicit a letter of employment. Simply, seeing your voucher cannot be a prerequisite to seeing / viewing an apartment. Where you get the rent should be no one's business. 


Don't be afraid to speak-up. If you are advancing a fair housing and/or anti-discrimination right, you are protected from retaliation. Even if it is ultimately found that you were not discriminated against, you can nonetheless be compensated for facing unlawful coercion, intimidation, threats, or other types of interference with your anti-discrimination rights. This is not just true if you are advancing your own rights, it also applies if you are an ally who is aiding and/or encouraging someone else to exercise their rights to be free from discrimination.


Fair housing laws make housing available to everyone without stigma, loss of dignity, or other harms. If you are a victim, you can recover compensatory damages (being made whole), punitive damages (punishment damages), and your attorneys' fees. The perpetrator can lose their license (if licensed), be required to take trainings, and be ordered to stop their offensive behavior. There are fines and more. Discrimination is wrong and must be stopped.



*Attorney advertising

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Notice of Tenants' Rights to Reasonable Modifications and Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

On March 16, 2022, the NYS Division of Human Rights published Revised Rule Making, HRT-15-21-00005-RP (proposed 19 NYCRR 466.15), with respect to the notice that tenants must receive, which explains their rights to receive reasonable modifications and accommodations in housing. 


The proposed regulation provides that:

  • Real Estate Brokers are charged with making this disclosure "[u]pon the first substantive contact." 
  • Housing providers are charged with providing this disclosure to current and new tenants. 
  • Housing providers must post the notice on all of their websites.


Here is what the notice should state:

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 inform 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.

A housing provider may request medical information, when necessary to support that there is a covered disability and that the need for the accommodation is disability related.

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 healthcare provider 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 public can comment on this Revised Rule Making until April 30, 2022 by email to  Caroline.Downey@dhr.ny.gov with subject of I.D. No. HRT-15-21-00005-RP



Of note, this Proposed Rule was already revised based on prior public comment. Based on that prior comments, the Revised Rule now:
  1. Includes a posting requirement;
  2. Language change from "doctor" to "healthcare provider" with respect to proving disabilities;
  3. Language change from "show" a disability to "inform" of a disability;
  4. The regulation also now explains the statute of limitations of 3 years to file a complaint in court;
  5. Adding that the failure of a housing provider to respond to a reasonable accommodation request may also be considered a denial of a reasonable accommodation;
  6. Clarifying when a provider may reasonably request particular documentation about a disability or need for an accommodation; and
  7. That the notice requires owners and landlords, not real estate agents, to provide contact information for property managers in the notice.
The response to those comments also acknowledges that there is no express enforcement mechanism for failure to comply with the notice requirement besides from the fact, that we surmise, it will be relevant in a failure-to-accommodate lawsuit and under license law for licensed professionals. 


Finally, the Division of Human Rights declined to include advice about the availability of attorneys' fees for plaintiffs in discrimination lawsuits in response to comment. We strenuously disagree with this decision because this lack of disclosure will demotivate victims from seeking the professional help that they desperately need and we hope that you, the public, will comment, again, to remind the Division of this important fact.  



Wednesday, December 22, 2021

New Law: Real Estate Brokerage in NYS is Changed for Good - Standardized Qualifying of Homebuyers Required

Write down December 21, 2021 as the date that real estate brokerage was changed forever in NYS. That is when S2131A was signed into law and became effective. 


If you are a real estate salesperson or an associate real estate broker at a brokerage firm that is unaware of this new law, it's time to change brokers. 


This law requires your broker to institute standardized operating procedures for the prerequisites prospective homebuyers shall meet and to submit such procedures to the Department of State. 


If procedures are changed, whatsoever, the new procedures shall be submitted within 30 days of the change. 


Plus, the law requires the Secretary of State to promulgate regulations and the combined law / regulations shall, at a minimum, require brokerages to have a policy as to: 

  1. Whether prospective clients shall show identification; 
  2. Whether an exclusive broker agreement is required; &
  3. Whether pre-approval for a mortgage loan is required. 


If you are a salesperson who is operating under a brokerage's license that fails to satisfy this new submission of procedures requirements, or if you fail to follow the procedures, you are subject to a license law violation and penalty, including revocation or suspension of your license. 


This is very serious and will also work as important evidence in any and every fair housing / discrimination litigation moving forward.