Legal Line Question of the Week
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