Self-management is a popular approach for many community associations because homeowners maintain complete control over all...
Do HOAs Have to Be ADA Compliant?
Signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides equal opportunities and protects the rights of individuals with disabilities. This law governs both private and public facilities, similar to the Federal Fair Housing Act (FFHA). And HOA management needs to be aware of both.
The ADA applies to community association property that is open to the public, even if only for the occasional or limited event. If an HOA is purely residential and association property is not open to the public, the association is generally not subject to the ADA, though it is still governed by the Fair Housing Act.
When does the ADA apply to HOAs?
In general, the ADA applies to amenities and other parts of the community that are not used solely by residents. Under this law, all public and government facilities are required to comply with specific use and accommodations.
An HOA is not subject to the ADA unless the association is operating what is considered a public accommodation, which is any facility the HOA is holding out for use by members of the general public.
Below are some examples requiring ADA compliance by HOAs and HOA management companies:
- The HOA maintains a rental office on property that receives regular visits from any member of the general public
- Churches, schools, or clubs use the association’s facilities on a regular basis
- Tennis meets open to public spectators
- Trails, playground areas, golf courses, etc.
- The association leases a facility to the public in exchange for money, such as allowing members of the public to purchase a membership or pass to use the HOA pool
- Swim meets are held at the HOA’s pool
- The association is part of a timeshare
- Charity events
Common space within the community used for public events, or any event hosted by the HOA that is open to members of the public, must be ADA accessible. This may also apply to parking lots if spaces are used for guest parking. Keep in mind that part-time public use can be enough for the ADA to apply.
Making sure your HOA is in compliance
Any HOA allowing activities such as those outlined above should ensure ADA compliance by carefully inspecting the property to ensure that barriers such as curbs, safety hazards, stairs/steps, etc. are fixed or removed immediately. Also, special handicap parking must be made available to members of the public. Failure to do so could lead to discrimination claims against the association or its members.
Because the association can be deemed out of compliance with the ADA through rules, policies, or possible architectural barriers, the HOA must be aware of any facilities that may be considered public accommodations as defined by law.