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Understanding the ADA - part 2

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Part one of Understanding the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) highlighted the difficulty many commercial property and business owners have in understanding and implementing the ADA.

One may ask: “How do I determine if my property is in compliance and how do I get my property into compliance before delivery of a notice from an attorney informing me to do so?” Continue reading for more information and also look for part three where we answer your specific questions.

The ADA of 1990

The ADA of 1990 requires a private entity who offers goods and services to the public to have facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities, and stipulates minimum construction-related accessibility standards to provide access. Facilities constructed prior to January 26, 1992 are not “grandfathered” and must remove barriers in public accommodation areas that are “readily achievable to do so.”

Facilities constructed or altered between January 26, 1992, and March 15, 2012, are required to comply with the 1991 ADA Standards.

Properties constructed or altered on or after March 15, 2012, are required to comply with the 2010 ADA Standards.  Enforcement of the ADA is by the U.S Department of Justice, or by an individual with a disability who has encountered a barrier to accessing the facility.

H.R. 620, a bill in Congress that has been passed by the House but has not yet passed the Senate, will amend how the ADA is enforced.

California Accessibility Standards

California accessibility standards are in the California Building Code (CBC) and are based on the ADA Standards, yet have some provisions that are more restrictive.  Compliance to California accessibility standards are enforced by the local building department. While the state’s accessibility provisions may change more frequently than the ADA Standards, compliance is tied to the edition of the CBC under which the facility was constructed or altered.  

Meet the Certified Access Specialist (CASp)

A CASp is an individual certified by the State of California who has passed an examination demonstrating extensive knowledge of state and federal construction-related accessibility standards.

Securing an access compliance evaluation from a CASp will identify for a property or business owner any violations to the applicable standards which require correction. If corrections are needed, a CASp will work with the business or property owner to develop a schedule for compliance. A business or property owner who hires a CASp prior to an accessibility lawsuit receives a 90-stay and an early evaluation conference in the event a lawsuit is filed.

Commercial tenants and the ADA

Newer commercial leases contain specific provisions about the ADA, so it is important for landlords and tenants to know the terms in their lease.

Many times a property owner will obtain an evaluation to determine what outstanding issues may be on their property, but the evaluation does not always include the leasable tenant premises.

Check the specific language in your lease, as often a tenant is responsible for ensuring their leasable premises complies with the ADA at their cost.

Burt M. Polson, CCIM, is an active commercial real estate broker. Reach him at 707-254-8000, or burt@acresinfo.com. Sign up for his email newsletter at BurtPolson.com.

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