What is a CASp inspection?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and numerous state laws prohibit businesses from discriminating against people with disabilities. This includes the obligation to facilitate access as well as remove barriers to access in your place of business (such as building a wheelchair accessible ramp, if necessary). If you are not in compliance with these laws, you run the risk of a disability discrimination lawsuit being filed against your business. For a business that rents a commercial space, both the landlord and the tenant can be held liable for violations.
However, it is not always easy to determine if your business or commercial facility is in violation of disability laws. One way to help determine this is by having a CASp inspection and obtaining the inspector's report. This service provides other benefits as well.
What is a CASp inspection?
CASp stands for Certified Access Specialist. A CASp is certified by the State of California for having a specialized knowledge of construction-based disability laws.
The CASp will inspect your business' structure and draft a report. The report will include any potential violations the CASp inspector finds as well as what you should do to remedy the situation. The CASp cannot certify your structure for being in compliance.
Do I have to get a CASp inspection?
No, you are not required to get a CASp inspection of your property, and your decision not to get one cannot be used to prove you don't intend to comply with the law.
However, there is one requirement related to the CASp inspection. A relatively new law passed to encourage compliance and deter litigation requires you to disclose whether or not you've had one in your commercial lease. California Civil Code Section 1938 outlines the requirements:
“A commercial property owner or lessor shall state on every lease form or rental agreement executed on or after July 1, 2013, whether the property being leased or rented has undergone inspection by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp), and, if so, whether the property has or has not been determined to meet all applicable construction-related accessibility standards pursuant to Section 55.53.”
This requirement does not apply to residential leases. While it can be expensive, there are many advantages to having the inspection. The potential benefits of having a CASp inspection include:
- A certificate of inspection to post in your business which can deter lawsuits
- Procedural advantages if litigation does transpire
- Reduced financial liability in certain situations
One downside is that if you fail the inspection, you have to include that information in your commercial lease as well. Whether or not a CASp inspection is right for you and your business will depend on your circumstances. The best place to start is to talk to an experienced real estate attorney about your options.
Helix Law Firm can help with your commercial real estate needs
Ensuring your business is in compliance with all relevant laws can help prevent disability access litigation. We can help make sure you get compliant, stay compliant, and defend you from lawsuits that threaten your business.