The city can be a tough place to navigate even for the most able-bodied New Yorkers. For the elderly, those with disabilities, or anyone whose mobility has been compromised by illness or injury—even temporarily—getting into their own building can feel like a monumental task.
One law—specifically Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 —states that owners of certain buildings must remove barriers and provide people with disabilities with access equal to or similar to that available to the general public. Another law administered by the New York City Commission on Human Rights is the city’s Human Rights Law. This law also protects the rights of people with disabilities by requiring that landlords and management of co-ops and condominiums reasonably accommodate the needs of disabled tenants, shareholders or owners.
The city’s Human Rights Law protects the rights of people with disabilities by requiring that landlords, co-ops, and condos reasonably accommodate the needs of disabled tenants, shareholders or owners. Reasonable accommodation can be structural, such as a ramp at the primary entrance to provide wheelchair access, or installing grab-bars in bathrooms. They can also involve policy or rule changes, such as permitting a tenant who is blind or has a psychological disability to have a guide dog or a companion animal, despite a building’s “no pets” policy. The law provides guidance in assessing requests for reasonable accommodation, taking into account the nature and cost of the proposed accommodation and the financial resources of the landlord or building.
Help for All
As with many laws however, deciphering the ADA’s legalese can be complicated—and not fully understanding the law’s applications can result in accidental noncompliance. For example, in some cases, managers in the city’s older buildings mistakenly think they are exempt from these laws, believing that the laws are solely meant for new construction. Others may be baffled by the technical requirements of these laws, and still others equate accessibility with big budgets that they may not have at their disposal.
To help make the process smoother, there are several city-based organizations and offices where residents, building management and landlords can turn to for assistance deciphering the laws and ultimately complying with the ADA. The New York City Commission on Human Rights Law Enforcement Bureau and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities can be contacted for assistance or if a resident has been rejected after making an accessibility request.