A shareholder in your co-op has recently become disabled and your building’s entrance is not fully accessible. Is the co-op responsible for modifying the entrance so it accommodates the disabled resident?
Accommodations required by Title III of the American Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and The New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) extend to New York City cooperatives and condominiums. Under these requirements, when requested, condominium and cooperative boards are required to provide reasonable accommodations. But what does that process look like?
The first thing to note is that under New York’s Executive Law Section 296 18-a, any “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.” In the event that a tenant or shareholder or owner takes advantage of these rights, the NYCCHR, New York City Human Right Law (NYCHRL) requires the start of what is known as the cooperative dialogue process. At Guzov, LLC we assist the Boards we represent in crafting required notices and in facilitating these dialogues with residents. We create necessary documentation and correspondence for our clients and regularly check-in with our clients to apprise them of changes in prevailing law. Below are some pointers for Board members to periodically review.
The First Step: The Cooperative Dialogue
A “cooperative dialogue” refers to “the process by which a covered entity and a person who is entitled to, or may be entitled to an accommodation under the law, engage in good faith in a written or oral dialogue concerning the person’s accommodation needs; including alternatives to a requested accommodation; and the difficulties that such potential accommodations may pose for the covered entity.”
When a covered entity learns, either directly or indirectly, that an individual requires an accommodation due to their disability, the entity has an obligation to initiate and engage in a cooperative dialogue with the individual. This dialogue is essential to the provision of reasonable accommodations. In navigating the requirements of the law, be mindful that if a cooperative dialogue is initiated and the covered individual does not request accommodation or reveal a disability, they do not waive the right to do so later. The Condominium and Cooperative lawyers at Guzov, LLC tailor plans to identify when and how cooperate dialogues need to occur, while ensuring that the process remains productive for the individuals involved.
The Second Step: Accommodations
Once the dialogue is initiated, the Board and/or Managing agent will work with the resident requiring accommodation to devise the plan for accommodation. At this phase, consultation with an attorney is prudent to ensure a plan that is adequate in the eyes of the law is drafted expeditiously. Good faith governs these negotiations so accommodations sufficiently meet the needs of the individual, and in turn, the individual may not unreasonably reject reasonable accommodation because it is not their preference.
If you would like to discuss compliance under the ADA, NYCHRL, and NYCCHR, please contact us to schedule a consultation.