LIEB BLOG

Legal Media Analysts

Showing posts with label disability. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disability. Show all posts

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, February 09, 2022

New York Establishes Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities

New law establishes Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities. The Office assures that disabled people are afforded the opportunity to exercise all of the rights and responsibilities accorded to citizens of New York.

Operating under the Department of State, the Office shall advise and assist state agencies in developing policies designed to help meet the needs of the disabled by:

  • Coordinating the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act;
  • Ensuring that state programs do not discriminate against disabled people; 
  • Ensuring that programs provide appropriate services for disabled individuals; and 
  • Working with state agencies to develop legislation and potential regulatory changes.
The Office will be headed by a Director, appointed by the Governor. 

Landlords should be actively removing barriers to access so that this new Advocate doesn't bring suit against them for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 



Monday, January 10, 2022

New Workers' Compensation Law Allows for Attorneys' Fees

A new law seeks to reduce bias against injured workers in low-income brackets who cannot afford attorneys' fees.


New York's Workers’ Compensation law has been amended to include awarding attorneys’ fees for the following services:

  • 1/3rd of one week’s compensation for awards made directing the continuation of weekly compensation benefits for temporary total or partial disability;

  • 15% of the increased compensation when an award is made that increases the amount of compensation awarded or paid for a previous period(s) of temporary total or partial disability;

  • 15% of the compensation due in excess of the employers/carrier’s previous payments when an award is made for loss of use or permanent facial disfigurement;

  • 15% of the compensation due in excess of the employer or carrier’s previous payments plus a sum equivalent to 15 weeks of compensation when an award is made for permanent total disability or permanent partial disability;

  • 15% of the compensation due in excess of the employer/carrier’s previous payments plus a sum equivalent to 15 weeks of compensation when an award is made for death benefits; and

  • 15% of any benefits to be paid by the employers/carrier when an award is made under a waiver agreement.


The law became effective on 12/31/2021. 


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Fake News Alert - TX & Abbott with Employer Anti-Vaccine Mandate

Everywhere you look, the media is saying TX isn't permitting employer vaccine mandates, but that is NOT what is happening. To be clear, vaccine mandates are still permissible in TX. 


You can read Governor Abbott's Executive Order GA-40 here


As you can clearly see, all the Order prohibits are vaccine mandates that do not provide a mechanism for those who object to the "vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19." 


This is almost entirely consistent with existing law and how, just about, every court case is shaking out with respect to vaccine mandates, with a few minor wrinkles that can't be ignored. The two wrinkles in the Order are:

  1. Not utilizing the term "sincerely held" prior to "religious beliefs," which thereby seems to expand the standard in protecting religion, which doesn't appear legally problematic; and, 
  2. Misstating the disability / handicap prong. 
    • Under existing disability / handicap law, an accommodation is never available just because the existence of a disability / handicap renders the policy (i.e., vaccination) unnecessary, which appears to be the intention of the wording where it states, "including prior recovery from COVID-19." 
    • Instead, under existing law, an accommodation is only available where a disability or handicap requires an accommodation for equality to exist. Stated otherwise, one needs a qualifying disability to receive an accommodation in the first instance, without it, there is nothing to accommodate. 
    • To be clear, under existing law, having had recovered from COVID-19 is NOT a disability that is recognized. We wonder how this aspect of the Order will shake out and more so, how the Supremacy Clause will shake out if / when the Federal Government responds.  


Do you see the distinction? Does the distinction matter?




Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Landlords with Elevators - What do you do for disabled people during outages?

The MTA needs to explain what reasonable accommodations it made for passengers with disabilities to access the subways during its frequent and inconvenient elevator outages according to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Brooklyn Ctr. for Indep. of the Disabled v. Metro. Transp. Auth.


This raises an important question for all landlords - what do you do to provide access for disabled people when your elevators don't work? 


According to the Court, "[a]n “accommodation must overcome . . . non-trivial temporal delays that limit access to programs, services, and activities.” 


While the the MTA offered accommodations such as busing alternatives, notice of outages, and permanent signage explaining alternative routes, the Second Circuit said that wasn't enough to summarily dismiss the case.


Have you audited your accommodation offerings recently? If not, you should.