Safe and Secure in the Sunshine State What You Need to Know About Safety for All Ages

Americans have a long history of pride in personal independence and individual rights. Since the break with English rule two centuries ago platitudes like, “A man’s home is his castle,” and “live and let live” have existed side-by-side with the desire to also provide for the smallest and weakest in our communities.

Children, the aged and disabled individuals are often not able to live and let live comfortably and safely without special consideration and plans; plans for everyday quality of life issues, and plans for emergencies or extenuating circumstances.

How such plans are put in place and brought to fruition in individual and private homes is a different scenario from the mechanisms employed in multifamily communities, such as condominiums or co-ops. Homeowner, condo owner association boards, property management companies, and individual residents have distinct protocols and laws to consider when safety and security is the issue for those most vulnerable within the community.

Know the Law

It is not only helpful, but essential for a condominium board to have a working understanding of the local, state and federal laws impacting their residents with special needs or disabilities. Legal counsel should be able to answer questions and direct actions when safety and emergency plans are discussed at regular meetings. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) first signed into law in 1990 is administered under The Department of Justice (DOJ) and is an additional resource.

As a civil rights law, the ADA can provide important guidelines on topics such as reasonable accommodations for the disabled and what constitutes discrimination. There can be very expensive consequences for condominium properties and board members if ADA is not interpreted correctly. It is important to remember ADA is not a static field, and changes and modifications may be enacted at any time. Title III, pertaining to private industry, and any place of public accommodations such as lodgings, education, and recreation can also provide helpful guidelines and information for boards.


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  • I am President of COA1, Harborage, Bradenton, County of Manatee. The CDD has not maintained the common area behind us and as a result we have growth into the CDD area, raccoons, bobcat and armadillo right to our lanais. Two weeks ago I was repotting plants outside my lanai, sitting on a towel (because of drainage issues we have encountered with this neglect on top of wildlife) when I was bit by a brown recluse spider. Thank God it wasn't the children upstairs or the 92 year old next door. The CDD chairman told me I was not to bring it up at the CDD meeting, nor was I to participate in any fashion to rectify the problem. That the COA did not have the right to see a map of the CDD responsibilities. That we just had to take her word for it, oh, and by the way don't email her any more. on any subject. Same goes for the Management company dpfg. Is this legal? Can anyone help me with the stature where I can find the answer? Any legal precedents? As you can tell I am frustrated.