Q&A: Is Disabled Access Required?

Q. I own a condo in Hollywood, Florida. It is approximately 50-60 years old. All told, there are seven commercial units within the building and around 260 residential units. We are NOT remodeling the building. We want to follow all the necessary guidelines, but is it mandatory that we put in a handicap ramp? Some residents seem to think so.

                  —Curious in Coconut Creek

A. “The condominium is neither a commercial condominium, nor a hotel condominium, thus is not a place of 'public accommodation' pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act,” according to Russell M. Robbins, managing partner with the law firm of Mirza Basulto & Robbins, LLP in Coral Springs.

“If the association is renovating or remodeling they would be required to bring the affected areas up to code.

“An individual resident may request a reasonable accommodation under federal law, however the association is not required to pay for the improvement. If an owner was willing to pay for the improvement for their use and enjoyment of the premises, the association would likely have no choice but to permit the reasonable accommodation.”

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  • I beg to differ. While it's true that the law doesn't state this per se, what it states and what is usually considered the main clause concerning whole "disabled - condo owner" issue is, that the owner is legally obliged to provide both groups with the same standards. Meaning that if entrance for non-disabled person is non-obstructed so should be the entrance for the disabled person. And this is not only about the ramps, in many states <a href="">automated doors</a> are required as well, as it is needed by people in wheelchair with no assistance.
  • The issue is not only the applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but also the Federal and state Fair Housing Acts. If a resident or prospective resident would require such accessibility, then it is the obligation of the condominium to provide such features.