How to Maintain Accessibility Compliance in an Apartment Complex

How to Maintain Accessibility Compliance in an Apartment Complex

Accessibility compliance in apartment complexes is a legal obligation and necessity for property owners and managers. Those with disabilities have the right to access public spaces that are non-discriminating. They also have the right to an adaptable or accessible apartment. To comply with the law, apartment management must understand what they are obligated to provide to meet the needs of disabled residents. There is a difference in legal obligations for a residential property versus the actual apartments available for disabled renters. New technological options provide several creative and convenient features for apartment communities to offer the disabled to make their lives easier.

Understanding Your Obligations for Accessibility Compliance as an Apartment Manager

A misconception about providing ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)compliance is that the apartments offered to disabled persons must comply with the ADA. The ADA only applies to public spaces. Examples of areas in the apartment complex that must have compliance are entrances, common areas, amenity spaces, and parking lots. The FHAA (Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988) requires seven particular design features for buildings built after March 13, 1991, and these particular features make a unit more adaptable for someone with a physical disability. This is the difference between an apartment, which must be adaptable, and an accessible public space. An accessible apartment already has features installed to aid the disabled person.

Certain types of disability often get overlooked. Vision and hearing aids are included in compliance laws. Examples of building construction or modification for these disabilities would be signs in braille or larger print.

Accessibility Compliance Requirements and Options for Apartment Properties

Owners and property managers might be tempted to fight against modifications to the property or apartments because of cost concerns, however, they would still be responsible for paying if the modifications are reasonable. Installing a ramp so that a disabled person with a wheelchair could enter an apartment, and providing elevators or lifts might also be included in the examples where a landlord or property management would be responsible for ADA or FHAA compliance.

Sometimes there is little to no cost involved in compliance for the apartment community. An example would be allowing a person who has a service animal in a building or apartment even though there is a no-pets policy. Another easy modification would be changing the parking lot to provide a tenant with mobility issues with a closer parking space.

With technology advancements and usage growing exponentially, it is important to note these can be used to help disabled residents. Those with sensory disabilities can be helped with haptic feedback, and auditory, or visual features available with smart technology.

Not only is it important for the owners and managers of apartment properties to comply with disability laws, but they should also want to create communities that are inclusive to all and discriminatory to none. This can be done by studying the ADA and FHAA when planning the construction of new apartments or modifying existing properties. When there is confusion about what is required to be compliant, legal counsel should be consulted or a realty compliance service can provide guidance.