ADA: When does it apply? Why should it always be considered?

ADA: When does it apply? Why should it always be considered?The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law in 1990, applies to public accommodations, including hotels, motels, restaurants, shopping malls, retail shops, convenience stores, grocery stores, convention centers, sports arenas, and government-owned or public subsidized housing including university dorm rooms and public housing. It doesn't apply to the dwelling units within apartments or condominiums. The ADA defines that all areas of public accommodation be fully-accessible. While the ADA applies to multifamily properties, it does not apply to the dwelling units in those properties. Public areas at multifamily properties, including rental offices, parking areas, and community rooms may be governed by the ADA if they are available to more than the residents who live there and their guests, including areas used for town meetings, or areas that are leased out to the public.

The ADA also requires that a certain number of handicap accessible parking spaces be van-accessible. The access aisle for a van-accessible parking spot needs to be 96 inches wide, compared with only 60 inches wide for standard handicap parking spots. Multifamily properties are also required to have “Van Accessible” signage at the designated parking spaces. If you do not have the required number of van-accessible spaces at your property with proper signage, your building is out of compliance.

Another law that is related to the ADA is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which applies to your property if you receive a government subsidy. Under this law, you are required to provide five percent fully accessible units and two percent hearing and visually impaired units for buildings built with Rural Development funds starting in 1982, and with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds starting in 1988. Properties constructed before those dates are encouraged to meet the requirement of five percent fully accessible units and two percent hearing and visually impaired units during renovation, rehabilitation or repair of the building. Section 504 also requires that common areas be fully accessible.

The ADA should always be weighed because the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the consideration of housing agreements on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. One type of disability discrimination prohibited by the Fair Housing Act is the refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. HUD and the DOJ frequently oversee complaints alleging that housing providers have violated the Act by refusing reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities.

Accessible Solutions specializes in making accessibility accommodations to help property owners be compliant with the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Fair Housing Act. We can convert a building that was built using a non-accessible building standard, and make that dwelling fully accessible, with a walk-in ADA shower, widened doorways, and we can install temporary or permanent ramps to help a person in a wheelchair, scooter, or other mobility device access the dwelling and their vehicle. We are accessibility experts, and we have multiple types of financing available.

If you have any specific questions about how these laws apply to your property, please contact us today to find out how we can bring your building up to code with the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. We started our company back in 1978, because we wanted to help this community gain access to public accommodations, and have dwellings that are customized to their specific accessibility needs. We know the laws, as we've been a specialized general contractor for over 35 years, and we can help you to understand how to meet all of the requirements of the laws without spending money on unnecessary modifications.


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