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Board Talk: A Conversation About the ADA

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Does anyone have any experience with what the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires of a co-op in terms of the following? The co-op has a rule against bicycles being brought into the lobby. Instead, bicycles are to be taken into the garage and chained to a metal bicycle rack. Bicycle owners must then walk roughly 125 feet to the elevator to reach the lobby.

An individual with a severe physical disability has rented a unit on the lobby level from a shareholder. This individual uses a bicycle for her transportation. Walking is visibly difficult for this individual. The individual with the disability has visible difficulty making the walk through the basement and has been bringing her bicycle into the lobby (the same level as her apartment).

Recently, while bringing her bicycle into the lobby, the individual was observed by the managing agent who informed her that it was not permitted. The individual asked to be considered an exception to the rule due to her disability. The managing agent ordered the bicycle taken out of the lobby. We do not want to run afoul of the ADA. Any thoughts on what should be done?

Bob

Common sense should prevail at all times. It is not always a black and white case. (If I were the renter, I would send a letter to the board/agent explaining my circumstances.)

Peg Meerkatz, Disability Advocate

The law requires that condos, co-ops, apartments, etc. make “reasonable accommodations” for the disabled. If someone with a disability, say, requests a closer parking space, this would be a reasonable accommodation. I believe that this individual’s request is reasonable given the nature of her disability and the law and therefore should be granted.

JB

The Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to private residences, including co-ops and condos. The applicable law is the Fair Housing Act. The disabled individual needs to write a letter to the board requesting a specific reasonable accommodation – being able to bring his/her bike through the lobby directly to his/her apartment – and the reason for the accommodation – that the long walk from the basement can only be done with extraordinary difficulty because of a physical disability. The New York City Commission on Human Rights can advise.

dianne stromfeld

Contrary to your post, ADA does cover co-ops because they are not considered private residences. This is the reason the tax situation is so unfair. Co-ops are taxed as commercial property. Many of us have been trying to get a new zoning category, but nothing has happened yet. You state that it is actually in the Fair Housing Act. I would greatly appreciate you noting which part of the act covers this to the exclusion of ADA. Thanks.

Attorney Geoffrey Mazel, a partner at Hankin & Mazel, offers these comments regarding the disagreement over whether the ADA covers co-ops: Based on the information provided, it appears that both the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act would apply, as well as New York City and New York State Human Rights Laws. In this example, the disabled resident is asking for an accommodation because of her disability. The co-op is required by all applicable laws to provide a “reasonable accommodation” when a resident shows a medical necessity for it. It is my opinion that the request in this situation is reasonable and the co-op is obligated to accommodate the disabled resident.

 

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