ADA Compliance for Property Managers

ADA Compliance for Property Managers

12 September 2022 By Admin

As a property manager, it is essential for you to know a little bit about ADA compliance since you are the one responsible for making sure your building is meeting the requirements laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even if your apartment block or other facility was built before 1990, when the law was put in place, you still have an obligation to ensure that all public areas on the property meet the regulations. That includes rental offices, entrances, event spaces, communal areas, and public restrooms. If you are not sure that you meet these requirements, you need to talk to an ADA contractor as soon as possible. Don't wait for a lawsuit, be proactive in addressing any accessibility issues now.

Who is Protected by the ADA?

First, let's start with a summary of who is protected by the ADA. In short, any person with a disability is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, contrary to popular belief, that doesn't just mean wheelchair users! Disability is a far-reaching umbrella term that covers a wide range of physical and psychological conditions. A disability may not be instantly recognizable at first glance; many will be completely hidden. As a property manager, you cannot ask a disabled person what their disability is. Still, to qualify as a disability, it should be a physical or mental disorder that limits their life compared to an able-bodied person. Some examples that would qualify as a disability include:

  • Mental Illness
  • Visual Impairment
  • Mobility Impairment
  • Chronic Illness

Understanding Reasonable Accommodations

As a property manager, you will be expected to offer reasonable accommodations for disabled tenants or patrons. This means making changes to policy or resolving physical barriers to help the disabled person, but they should not put undue hardship on you. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Allowing a service dog into a building that usually has a no dogs policy
  • If an apartment building has a resident-only laundry room, a disabled person may request permission for another person to use it to assist with their laundry
  • Moving the location of a service to a more accessible area of the building
  • Adding an accessible ramp where there are stairs to an entrance

Who is Responsible for Making Modifications?

In most cases, it falls to the property owner or landlord to cover the cost of implementing reasonable accommodations, including modifications such as adding an accessible parking stall or a wheelchair ramp. The majority of these modifications will be low-cost. Talk to an ADA contractor about a CASp inspection to determine which areas need to be addressed. This will help you create a list of readily achievable barrier removal tasks that you must handle to bring the property into compliance. Readily achievable refers to modifications that will not cause significant upheaval or financial hardship.

Common ADA Myths

There are many misconceptions about the ADA guidelines, and it often leads to property managers being uneasy about the law. The truth is, ADA guidance is not there to punish property owners. It offers advice and raises awareness so that disabled people get equal treatment. It is always preferable to address any violations by an ADA contractor rather than have a costly legal battle. Let's take a look at some common myths and the truth behind them.

Myth 1 - Historic Buildings Are Exempt From The ADA

The myth has caught out many property managers and owners that old or historic buildings are exempt from the guidance set out by the ADA. The truth is that all buildings have an obligation to make public spaces accessible for disabled patrons. However, there is a grain of truth in this misconception because buildings built after 1990 or 2010 face stricter regulations. Talk to an ADA contractor to determine what you need to do to comply.

Myth 2 - You Can Only Be Sued Once

Another common myth is that if you have already settled an ADA lawsuit, then you cannot be sued again in the future. This is not true. If another violation is found, then you could have another lawsuit filed against you. As an ADA contractor, we always recommend being proactive and getting compliant before the lawsuits roll in. Don't wait for the courts to force modifications to your property. Invest in making changes now. The cost will be less than facing a legal battle.

Common ADA Violations

If you are not sure whether or not your property is compliant, an ADA contractor can carry out an inspection to help you pinpoint violations. However, you may also want to look at some of the most common areas where violations are reported. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Inaccessible Entrance/Exit to the Property
  • Ramp of Incorrect Height or Slope
  • Lack of ADA Compliant Signage
  • No Accessible Parking or Drop-Off Area
  • Lack of Accessible Bathrooms

If you are a property manager concerned about your property's ADA compliance, why not call an ADA contractor like Protrk Construction to discuss an action plan?

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Why Wait to be "Forced" into ADA Compliance. If you are a public business or public property owner, save money, lawsuits, time and headaches by being prepared and avoiding it all in the first place. It’s time to call in the ADA pros. Use Protrk, an ADA construction expert, to Get it Done Right Prior to Forced Compliance. 

Call 415-813-9877 today or visit www.protrkconstruction.com for more details.

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