As a landlord, must you make your unit ADA compliant? How far are you required to go to make your property adaptable or workable for those with disabilities? Because the Americans with Disabilities Act applies mainly to public accommodations in multi-family buildings, the second question is the most pertinent to landlords renting out a private home or space.
ADA-Compliant Standards for Public and Multitenant Buildings
Although the law has been misinterpreted and misapplied in many circumstances, the ADA does not require that individual units in a building be made accessible to the disabled. What the law does require is that common areas, parking lots, public restrooms, and facilities tenants need such as the manager’s office have the proper accommodations. This might include ramps to get into the building, designated spaces for a van, restrooms with wider stalls, drinking fountains at heights designated by the ADA, and access to common facilities. The law recognizes that some older buildings do not lend themselves to getting an elevator so that current and prospective tenants can access a landlord’s office on upper floors, so the standard of “readily achievable improvements” applies.
Since 1991, the Fair House and Amendments Act (FHAA) has specified that certain properties offer units that are easily adaptable and incorporate universal design principles that make life easier for residents with disabilities.
What Applies to Private Residences?
What are the requirements for making a property ADA compliant for a landlord renting out a private home or a room in one? The law does not apply. However, the Fair Housing Act, directed toward preventing discrimination in housing for people based on race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability, says that disabled tenants have the right to request certain accommodations from their landlord, such as providing a parking space very close to the building. Just as with multitenant buildings, the landlord is not expected to expend considerable resources to renovate the building.
If the tenant wants modifications such as special faucets or door handles, modified kitchen appliances, lowered countertops, or ramps within the space, the tenant is expected to pay for these upgrades themselves. The landlord can request that the modification be done professionally and may hold some money aside to cover restoring the property to its original state once the tenant moves out.
Guiding Landlords to Make Property User-Friendly
Within most communities, there is a shortage of available, affordable housing for those with disabilities. For seniors and those with disabilities, finding a move-in ready apartment already modified for their needs is a challenge.
Landlords who need to do the basics, or who are willing to go the extra mile to make their property safe and user-friendly for tenants who need special accommodations, need guidance. As a landlord, you can benefit from talking to a disability specialists or to a company with expertise in designing, installing, and servicing mobility and accessibility equipment. Even though ADA legislation does not mandate many aspects of renovation for single-family or multifamily dwellings, applying the principles of universal design to renovations can make life easier for someone with mobility challenges.
If you’re looking for a competent professional to guide your renovation to make your property more user-friendly and ADA compliant when necessary, contact Western Stairlifts, experienced providers of accessibility equipment and home remodeling services.