Your rights if you have a disability

The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of a disability. The law defines a disability as:

a physical, mental or medical impairment which prevents the exercise of a normal bodily function or is demonstrable by medically accepted diagnostic techniques, or a record of such impairment, or a condition regarded by others as such impairment.

It is against the law for a landlord to:

  • discriminate against individuals with a disability in the rental, sale, or leasing of housing;
  • take any discriminatory action because of a history of a disability or because they perceive that an individual has a disability;
  • take any discriminatory action against a person for filing a complaint of discrimination.

The New York State Human Rights Law applies to everyone who sells, rents, or leases housing, including owners, managing agents, and real estate brokers or other agents.

Reasonable Accommodation

The New York State Human Rights Law requires that efforts be made to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities in housing. Specifically, the law requires that:

"a person with a disability be permitted to make reasonable modifications to the occupied premises, if the modifications are necessary to have full use and enjoyment of the premises; reasonable accommodations be made in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations are necessary to permit a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy the housing."

The law also requires that all buildings constructed after March 13, 1991 must make sure that:

  • public and common areas are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;
  • all doors are sufficiently wide to allow passage by persons in wheelchairs; and
  • all multi-family buildings contain accessible passageways, fixtures, outlets, bathrooms, and kitchens.

How to file a complaint

If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your disability or denied a reasonable accommodation for your disability, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights.

A complaint must be filed with the Division within one year of the alleged discriminatory act. You can file a complaint by mail or in-person.

File by mail

Visit the Division’s website and complete and download the form. Completed complaints must be signed before a notary public, and returned to the Division by mail at the appropriate address listed on the form.

File in-person

You can also file a complaint in-person at one of the Division of Human Rights' offices. You can find a list of offices on the Division of Human Rights' website.

If you feel your rights have been violated or have questions, search for a legal aid organization in your area.

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Last Reviewed: January 1, 2023