Handicap Accessibility In Your Homeowner’s Association
Handicap accessibility is a tricky subject when it comes to Homeowner Associations’ amenities and common elements. Modifications to make buildings or amenities handicap accessible can be very expensive, and what is required by law is sometimes difficult to understand. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all public places be handicap accessible. This includes;
- government buildings
- day care centers
- And many other places
Homeowner’s Associations’ amenities and Hoa management common elements were created for use by only members of the association. These strict rules make the amenities and common elements of a community classified as private property. Private property is not required to be handicap accessible and is not regulated by the ADA. However, if some common elements of the community are used by the public, then those elements are required to be handicap accessible. Activities that are advertised to the public, such as bingo or water aerobics, would make a common element applicable to the ADA. If community owners are allowed to host events on common elements, these elements would then fall under ADA regulation.
If an association does not allow any access to the public, and a community member is handicap, handicap accessibility can still be built. The Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 guarantees people with disabilities the right to handicap accessible facilities. If an individual owner wants to build handicap accessibility on the common elements of a private community, they will foot the entire cost. One example of this is a chair lift for a pool. The association board may have to approve the owner’s plans, but they can not, in most cases, restrict them from making elements handicap accessible. The association board may also require that the owner installing the handicap accessible equipment, sign an agreement saying they will pay for the removal and restoration of the common elements after they sell their property. Once handicap accommodations are installed they can be used by any person with disabilities. There use can not be restricted by the owner who installed the accommodations. Installing owners are also required to obtain whatever permitting is required for any projects.
This is a very delicate issue and should be handled with utmost care in situations. Consulting your lawyer about any issues is absolutely necessary, and could save you a great deal of money. It is also important to note that the agencies enforcing the Fair Housing Laws are very serious, and should not be questioned. If handicap accessibility is not an issue in your homeowner’s association now, it may be someday.
- Know your homeowners association well before you buy your property (holidayhometimes.com)