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Are Homeowners Associations and Condominium Associations Subject to the Americans With Disabilities Act?

Steve Black

We frequently
get asked what special steps must be taken by associations to be compliant with
the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.) In many cases our association
clients are not subject to the ADA but it depends heavily on who they allow to
use the common area and amenities.

The most common
trigger that makes the ADA apply to associations is when the association’s
common area and amenities are used with some degree of frequency by the general
public that are not members of the association.  For example, if the association allows
nonmembers to use the association’s pool for a fee, that will, in our opinion, trigger
the ADA application to that amenity.

If the common area
is only used by members of the association there is little concern that the ADA
applies.  There is only minor concern that
the ADA applies if members of the association bring a few guests to use the
amenities on occasion.  Unfortunately,
there is not much guidance on how often and how many non-members must use the
amenities to make the ADA apply to those amenities.

Once ADA
obligations apply the association could be responsible to make significant
modifications to the amenities.

Be careful
however, there are clear obligations for associations under the Federal and
State Fair Housing Acts (FHA) that often require accommodations and
modifications based on handicap (along with race, color, sex, national origin, and
familial status). Although an association may not have to take action under the
ADA it is possible that action is required under the FHA.  Board of Directors can easily and
unintentionally violate the FHA even when the ADA does not apply.

If you have questions regarding the ADA or the FHA you are welcome to contact our office and speak to one of our community association attorneys at Black, Slaughter & Black, P.A. in one of our Greensboro, Charlotte, Triangle or Coastal offices.

Author: Steven E. Black
Articles have been Reprinted with permission from Black, Slaughter, Black.

* These articles and related content on this website are provided without warranty of any kind and in no way constitute or provide legal advice. You are advised to contact an attorney specializing in Association Management for legal advice related to your specific issue and community. Some articles are provided by thrid parties and online services. Display of these articles does in no way endorse the products or services of Community Association Management by the author(s).