The First Department, reversing (modifying) the Appellate Term, First Department, ruled that a hearing should be held to determine whether eviction proceedings should be permanently stayed. A guardian (GAL) had been appointed pursuant to Mental Hygiene Law article 81 for the disabled tenants who had not complied with stipulations for fumigation of the apartment to rid it of bed bugs. With the GAL’s help the apartment was eventually fumigated. Under the Fair Housing Act the tenants were entitled to accommodations for their disabilities. A hearing was required to determine whether a permanent stay of eviction was an appropriate accommodation:
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), as amended, it is unlawful to discriminate in housing practices on the basis of a “handicap” (42 USC § 3604[f][A]). Handicap is very broadly defined, and a person is considered handicapped and thereby protected under the FHA if he or she: 1. Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or 2. Has a record of such impairment, or 3. Is regarded as having such an impairment.
No specific diagnosis is necessary for a person to be “handicapped” and protected under the statute. In fact, the determination may even be based upon the observations of a lay person … . The appointment of an article 81 guardian for tenants sufficiently establishes that these tenants are “handicapped” within the meaning of the FHA, leading us to consider whether they are entitled to a reasonable accommodation. What is “reasonable” varies from case to case, because it is necessarily fact-specific … . The overarching guiding factor, however, is that a landlord is obligated to provide a tenant with a reasonable accommodation if necessary for the tenant to keep his or her apartment. The ” refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford [the handicapped individual] equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling'” is a discriminatory practice… . A landlord does not have to provide a reasonable accommodation if it puts other tenants at risk, but should consider whether such risks can be minimized … . Matter of Prospect Union Assoc. v DeJesus, 2018 NY Slip Op 09016, First Dept 12-27-18