Making Sure Your Property is ADA Compliant
Property ownership and managing rental properties is a great way to generate passive income, but that doesn’t mean the job doesn’t require work. Landlords and property managers are responsible for the overall upkeep of their properties, and this includes being in compliance with state and federal housing regulations. Basics like maintaining safe passages and staircases, keeping elevators up to code, checking for and repairing structural and plumbing issues, and other necessities for keeping your property inhabitable can easily become a full-time job, especially if you manage more than one location.
Your responsibilities as a landlord or property manager extend far beyond property maintenance. In fact, failing to be in compliance with some of the building and code regulations can land you in serious legal and financial trouble. These regulations are often in place for the safety of your tenants, their guests, and your staff. In some cases, such as with the Americans with Disability Act, they are in place for greater accessibility and to combat discrimination. Failing to keep your property in ADA compliance could lead to fees and fines, lawsuits, or other legal issues. Protect yourself and your investment by ensuring your property is ADA compliant.
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
Originally signed into law in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act “prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life.” That is to say, the ADA safeguards disabled Americans’ rights to employment, patronage, and access to government programs and services. Modeled after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act extends protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin to include disability.
The ADA includes Title II, which encompasses state and federal government protections, and Title III, which expands the Act to businesses and nonprofits. New regulations and adjustments continue to be developed for the betterment of disabled Americans, with the most recent going into effect in January 2017. As a property owner or manager, staying abreast of changes in relevant guides and regulations is vital. Not only will remaining in ADA compliance help you avoid undue legal strife, but having accessible rental properties opens them up to a wider market, keeping them filled and providing you a steady income.
Is My Property ADA Compliant?
A proactive approach is always the best when it comes to compliance with government rules and regulations. When it comes to the Americans with Disabilities Act and housing, accessibility is more than ramps and accessible parking. While these basics should be the standard at all commercial and residential buildings, some properties built before 1990 may not be up to code. Moreover, it is possible to have these features and still not be accessible. For example:
Having an accessibility ramp far from the main entrance or in an area that is difficult to access
Having too few accessible parking spaces (the Fair Housing Act FHA) requires at minimum two percent of the total parking spaces must be accessible and are required to be located on an accessible route)
Not maintaining the function of assistance devices such as pressure plate door buttons and powered lifts
Accessibility limited to the first floor of a multi-story building
While legal compliance only applies to a small portion of your property, extending accessibility into your units benefits a wide array of people. The elderly, pregnant people and those with young children also benefit from things like wider doorways and hallways, accessible bathtubs, and properly maintained elevators.
While those changes may not be possible at this moment depending on your occupancy levels and costs, some cheaper changes you can make to go beyond the ADA compliance include:
Installing grab bars
Updating signage to include braille
Creating a more accessible rent payment system
Changing communal doorknobs to lever handles
Installing tile or hardwood vinyl floors
For further guidance on ADA compliance and other ways to legally protect your property, the Onyx Group is here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn how we can help you. Give our offices a call today at 786-504- 5760.
The information in this blog post has been provided for informational purposes only and may not reflect the current laws in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from The Onyx Group, or the author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. The information in this blog post has been provided for informational purposes only and may not reflect the current laws in your jurisdiction.