How can we ensure ADA compliance within our condominium’s common areas?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1992 and has since undergone several amendments to broaden its scope and further hone its applicability. At its inception, one of the main targets of the ADA was the housing industry, as potential renters and buyers were often being turned away – either expressly or impliedly – due to inaccessibility and unnecessary obstacles. Since the ADA’s inception, housing units are required to install reasonable accommodations to ensure at least a portion of units – and all common areas – are accessible to the handicapped.
Earlier this month, a man living in upstate New York launched a formal complaint against his condominium complex concerning the availability of handicapped parking spaces to accommodate those who are wheelchair-bound or otherwise have difficulty walking to and from their vehicles. According to the lawsuit, the petitioner put in a request to the condominium manager to swap assigned parking spaces for one close to the front door of his building.
The man, who suffers from spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis was originally denied the request and told that he would have to remain in his assigned parking space regardless of disability. Upon reconsideration, the complex agreed to allow him to trade spaces with another resident, provided he could find a willing neighbor and would pay for the property manager to renumber the spaces. At this point, the man initiated a formal discrimination lawsuit against the complex, alleging unfair treatment and unlawful unwillingness to accommodate his disability.
In a scenario like this, a condominium association is best-advised to have procedures and protocols in place to ensure all parking areas are accessible for those enduring a disability – including sufficient handicapped parking spots, ramps and handrails leading into the clubhouse, and parking options adjacent to handicapped-accessible units.
If you are curious about the laws as applicable to condominium associations and would like to discuss the various legalities of handicapped-accessible accommodations, please contact Schneider Mitola, LLP: 212-485-9400.