Landlords in California must generally comply with the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. They must also comply with the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA). The FHAA states that any building constructed after March 1991 must be capable of being adapted for use by a disabled person. It is worth noting that the units don’t need to be accessible to meet the requirements of this legislation.
Under current law, there is no need to have units that are specifically designed for use by disabled people. This is the case because the ADA only pertains to public buildings, like a hotel or a restaurant. However, all common areas must be accessible per the terms of the FHAA and the ADA. Common areas could include leasing offices, parking lots or conference rooms that residents are allowed to reserve.
An exception may be made for buildings in rural areas that were built before 1982 or properties under HUD jurisdiction that were built before 1988. These properties are generally not subject to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 unless they have been substantially upgraded. It may also be necessary to make upgrades to older apartment buildings to make them more accessible if disabled residents request that they are made.
Landlords who are facing potential ADA compliance issues may want to have an attorney review their current policies. Doing so may make it possible to make changes before a tenant files a lawsuit or a government agency levies a financial penalty on the owner of an apartment complex. If a property owner is already facing sanctions, a lawyer may help that individual avoid paying a fine or compensation to tenants. In some cases, a matter may be resolved without the need to go to court.