I represent a prospective purchaser who is interested in purchasing a co-op apartment in New York City. The prospective purchaser suffers from a physical disability and the purchaser is restricted to the use of a wheel chair. Is the co-op allowed to ask my purchaser about his disability during his board interview? Additionally, is the co-op allowed to ask my purchaser if he intends on requesting any structural modifications (or other reasonable modifications) to the premises?
No, the co-op is prohibited under applicable fair housing laws from asking thequestions stated above. Fair housing laws provide that a co-op is prohibited from inquiring into whether an applicant has a handicap. The co-op is further prohibited from asking about the nature or severity of the handicap. Additionally, a purchaser is not required to disclose the existence of a handicap during his board interview. The purchaser has the right, in his discretion, to request a reasonable modification or a reasonable accommodation to the premises.
Neil B. Garfinkel, REBNY Broker Counsel Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP