Disability access compliance for real estate
While disability access laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), are necessary and were passed with good intentions, many people unfortunately take advantage of the remedies available. California has had a particular problem with abuse by attorneys and their plaintiff clients. To avoid exposing yourself to such litigation, it's crucial that you follow these laws. Even when you are willing to comply, litigants are often more interested in monetary compensation, and you may have little recourse.
Commercial landlords and tenants
In a commercial setting, both the landlord and tenant are responsible for compliance with the ADA and other disability access laws. However, your commercial lease may assign primary responsibility to either party. This way, one party can shoulder the majority of the burden, depending on the terms of the lease. How this plays out will be a result of lease negotiations between landlord and tenant.
Settling these issues early on, and including the terms in your written lease, can help define the responsibilities of both sides, avoid unnecessary expense, and help determine liability more easily in the event of a lawsuit.
When the lease does assign some responsibility for disability compliance to you, it's important to understand who is protected and the steps that must be taken to become compliant. This will depend on the type of property involved.
Residential landlords have legal obligations as well, many of which are contained in the federal Fair Housing Act and other California laws. This may include altering your rental practices and updating your lease agreement. You may also be required to allow your tenant to make housing modifications in accordance with his or her access needs. For multifamily housing, your obligations might include wheelchair accessible construction or other modifications to ensure access.
In order to take advantage of tax credits and deductions while complying with the law, you should find an experienced real estate attorney to help. Additionally, you may benefit from a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) inspection, to help ensure your property is in compliance or learn what changes need to be made.
Helix Law Firm can help with ADA compliance
If you are a landlord, we can help you maintain compliance with the ADA and other laws. We can also respond to any litigation that might arise, negotiating with the other side on your behalf, or defending you in court if necessary.