Photo via albinoflea via Flickr
City Council will consider a new law that would require landlords to provide tenants with “reasonable accommodations” during non-emergency elevator repairs.
Under the new legislation, proposed by Councilman Mark Treyger, Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, and Public Advocate Letitia James, building owners would be required to submit a plan to residents detailing the accommodations that would be provided during a service outage expected to last for more than 24 hours.
The law would also grant any disabled tenant the right to request a reasonable alternative method of transportation between floors, not including the stairs. This could include utilizing the building’s freight elevator and providing an employee to operate it and assist tenants, or another reasonable accommodation such as relocation to a ground floor unit or to an apartment in another building.
“It is imperative that landlords consider the needs of all residents, especially the disabled and elderly, and provide reasonable accommodations in the case of elevator outages,” said Treyger. “I have heard from too many residents who have become essentially trapped in their own apartments and unable to get to important appointments because their elevator was out of service. We are simply asking that building owners consider the needs and safety of our most vulnerable neighbors and take reasonable steps to greatly reduce the impact of elevator repairs and outages.”
Current city law only requires that landlords give tenants 10 days notice before repairs begin. The proposal, which has support from Brooklyn Housing and Family Services, comes after all three elected officials received complaints from constituents who became stranded in their apartments as a result of elevator repairs conducted with little or no notice.
While this issue impacts residents in every neighborhood, it is especially pressing in areas like Southern Brooklyn where there is a large number of high-rise buildings. As we reported in January, James helped three aging, disabled residents of a Gravesend building sue their management company to block elevator repairs that would leave them trapped without access to essential medical care or a social life for months on end.
In September 2014, James filed a lawsuit against Goldfarb Properties for allegedly violating anti-discrimination laws by failing to accommodate residents during elevator repairs in a Bronx building — calling for stricter protections for disabled residents. This law would help resolve those issues by requiring the building owner to provide a written plan outlining the steps it is taking to reduce the impact the elevator outage has on residents, especially senior citizens and disabled tenants.
“All across our City, we have seen too many instances of individuals with disabilities being deprived of their basic civil rights and protections,” said James. “My office has even taken a landlord in the Bronx to federal court for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and State and City anti-discrimination laws in connection with planned elevator outages in four separate buildings. This bill will ensure that mobility impaired tenants are given due notice and provided with reasonable accommodation if an elevator in their building is down. I will continue to work with my partners in the City Council to fight for the rights of all New Yorkers.”
Source: Benson Hurst Bean