ADA lawsuit

Landlord ADA Compliance in Arizona - Gottlieb Law

Landlord ADA Compliance: Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act in Arizona

Landlord ADA Compliance: Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act in Arizona 1915 1277 Gottlieb Law

In Arizona, landlords must navigate the intricacies of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure they provide accessible living spaces and avoid discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Since the ADA’s inception, its scope to facilitate equal opportunities in housing and public accommodations has become a vital legal obligation. What’s more, amendments made in 2008 further widened the definition of disability, making it even more important for landlords to meet ADA standards across their properties.

Understanding how to maintain ADA compliance as a landlord in Arizona, means being aware of ADA apartment requirements, ADA regulations, and accessibility standards that are vital for creating ADA compliant housing. Landlords must also be prepared for potential ADA violations and lawsuits by staying informed about reasonable accommodations and fair housing practices. 

Understanding the Basics of the ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a nationwide statute established to safeguard the rights and prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities across various public spheres. The law covers several areas, including, but not limited to, access to public spaces, residential living, transport services, and job opportunities.

Titles of the ADA

The ADA is structured into five titles, each addressing different sectors:

  1. Title I – Employment: Safeguards the rights of individuals with disabilities within the employment sphere, covering all aspects from the job application process and hiring to termination, promotion, remuneration, job training, and other employment terms, conditions, and benefits..
  2. Title II – Public Services: Discrimination against people with disabilities regarding any services, programs, or activities offered by public organizations is strictly prohibited. 
  3. Title III – Public Accommodations: Applies to businesses that are open to the public and requires compliance with non-discrimination policies and adherence to standards for accessible design.
  4. Title IV – Telecommunications: Mandates that telephone companies provide telecommunications relay services to individuals with hearing or speech disabilities at no additional cost.
  5. Title V – Miscellaneous: Provisions included relate to the ADA in its entirety, including its connection to other laws as well as prohibition against coercion and retaliation.

ADA Compliance for Landlords

Titles III pertains to public accommodations. 

This includes:

  • Reasonably amending policies, practices and procedures as necessary to avoid discrimination against those protected under the ADA. 
  • Ensuring newly constructed or redesigned spaces are accessible by people with disabilities. 
  • Removing architectural and communication barriers where readily achievable.

Understanding “Public Accommodation”

For landlords, the term “public accommodation” can include areas of a property such as leasing offices or community rooms. 

It’s important to note that:

  • Public accommodation requirements potentially apply if these spaces are available to people beyond just residents and their guests.
  • The ADA’s accessibility standards require that all new construction and redesigns enable those with disabilities to have access. 

Recognizing Disabilities

Under the ADA, an individual with a disability is characterized as someone who:

  • A significant physical or mental impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities.
  • A pre-existing history to such impairments. 
  • Impairment is perceived and recognized by others. 

Conditions considered as disabilities include, but are not limited to, visual, speech,  hearing and orthopedic impairments, autism, mental illness, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Remember, the ADA National Network offers resources, technical assistance, and training to help businesses comply with the ADA, and staying informed can protect you from potential violations and lawsuits.

ADA Compliance for Rental Properties

As a landlord in Arizona, it’s crucial to understand the responsibilities regarding ADA and Fair Housing Act compliance for rental properties. 

  • Policy Altered Reasonably: Reasonable exceptions in policy and operations are required to provide individuals with disabilities with the right to equal and fair housing. This may include altering pet policies to accommodate service animals or adjusting parking rules to provide closer access for tenants with mobility impairments.
  • Access-Related Modifications: Tenants with disabilities must be allowed to make reasonable modifications to their private living spaces and common use areas. This includes installing grab bars in bathrooms, ramps for wheelchair access, or visual alert systems for tenants with hearing impairments. While tenants typically bear the financial responsibility for modifications within their private living space, landlords are generally responsible for adjustments in public areas.  In some cases both are legally responsible.
  • New Construction Requirements: For new multifamily housing with four or more units, ensure that the design and construction comply with ADA access standards. This includes accessible entrances, doorways, and facilities that accommodate tenants with disabilities.
  • Avoiding Discrimination: It’s important to never inquire about a tenant’s disability or reject an application based on disability. Always focus on the tenant’s qualifications and the reasonable accommodations they may request.
  • Shared Responsibility: Remember that ADA compliance is a shared responsibility between landlords and tenants. Open communication and clear agreements, preferably in writing, can help delineate who is responsible for specific modifications and avoid potential disputes.

Here are some resources and tips for navigating ADA compliance:

Key Considerations for Landlords or Businesses

For landlords or businesses in Arizona, here are some considerations regarding adhering to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards.

1. Understanding Compliance through FAQs

  • The Arizona State ADA Compliance Frequently Asked Questions provide essential guidance. It’s advisable to review these FAQs to understand the specific requirements and expectations, which may apply to business owners in Arizona. They can serve as a quick reference to clarify common concerns and outline steps for maintaining compliance.

2. Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications

  • According to Fair Housing Act guidelines, property owners must provide reasonable accommodations and alterations for residents with disabilities. This encompasses, among other things:
    • Policy Adjustments: For example, altering rules to provide a reserved parking space for a tenant with mobility issues or allowing service animals in no-pet buildings.
    • Physical Changes to Property: Such as affording easy wheelchair access by widening doorways and assisting with mobility by adding grab bars to bathrooms. 

3. Documenting and Communicating Effectively 

Maintain open lines of communication with potential and current tenants regarding accessibility features and accommodate their needs proactively. Document all requests and modifications meticulously to keep records of all compliance efforts. This documentation acts as proof of a landlord’s dedication to adhering to ADA guidelines and can be vital in resolving any conflicts.

4. Fair and Non-Discriminatory Screening Processes

Ensure the tenant screening process focuses solely on an applicant’s ability to meet lease requirements. It’s essential to avoid any form of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Application and tenant screening procedures should be crafted to adhere strictly to fair housing laws.

5. Staff Training on Fair Housing and Disability Awareness

Holding regular training on disability awareness and accommodation and ensuring that property management staff is kept up-to-date on current fair housing laws is pivotal. This not only helps in preventing accidental discrimination but also ensures that management is knowledgeable and prepared to handle requests for accommodations and modifications appropriately.

Navigating ADA Compliance in Arizona

Navigating ADA compliance in Arizona is a critical responsibility for landlords or businesses to ensure equal access and avoid hefty penalties.

Barrier Removal and Access Improvements:

  • Entranceways and aisles must be wide enough to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
  • Eliminate steps leading to building entrances by installing ramps where necessary.
  • Ensure that there are no obstructions to handicapped parking spaces, walks, sidewalks, curb ramps, pedestrian ramps, lobbies, corridors, elevators, and sanitary facilities.
  • Providing an accessible path to all primary functional areas is required when redesigning any property. This not only demonstrates compliance but also a commitment to inclusivity.

Resources and Support:

Resources and Assistance for Landlords

Striving for ADA compliance within Arizona rental properties, it’s imperative to know where to turn for assistance and how to handle any complaints or enforcement issues that may arise. 

Here’s a structured guide to resources and assistance available to landlords in Arizona: 

Filing Complaints and Enforcement:

  • Title III Violations: The filing of complaints under Title III can be done with the Department of Justice.  An attorney should be consulted prior to taking any action. Additionally, private lawsuits are a recourse for enforcement, emphasizing the need for landlords to be vigilant in their compliance efforts.
  • Fair Housing Act: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees the handling of grievances associated with breaches of the Fair Housing Act. Additionally, individuals can enforce the Act through private lawsuits, underscoring the importance of adhering to fair housing norms alongside fulfilling ADA obligations.

Educational Resources and Guides:

  • The DOJ provides a range of publications and guides related to the ADA, which can be invaluable in deepening the understanding of the Act and how it applies to rental properties. These resources offer clarity on complex aspects of compliance and can serve as a reference in decision-making processes.
  • ADA Publications for Businesses are designed to offer information and technical assistance tailored to the needs of businesses, including landlords. These publications are a treasure trove of knowledge, equipping landlords with the tools to ensure that rental properties meet ADA standards.

Technical Assistance and Legal Guidance:

  • For more personalized support, consider reaching out to the real estate attorneys at Gottlieb Law. We have the experience and background needed to formulate a strategy customized for complex situations. 

By leveraging these resources and understanding the proper channels for addressing compliance issues, landlords or businesses can reinforce their commitment to providing accessible housing and accommodations and maintaining a discrimination-free environment.

Final Thoughts 

The ADA plays a crucial role in guaranteeing that all Americans with disabilities receive equitable and fair treatment. For property owners, this translates into a duty to offer suitable modifications for people with disabilities, ensuring compliance with ADA regulations.

Whenever landlords face uncertainties about ADA compliance or seek guidance through the complex legal landscape of the ADA, Gottlieb Law is prepared to offer the necessary assistance. With an experienced team of real estate lawyers, Gottlieb Law ensures landlords can have peace of mind about their property. Contact our firm today at 602-899-8188 or schedule an initial consultation on our Contact Us page.

Gottlieb Law, PLC provides this article for information purposes only and nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship.  You should not take any actions in reliance on any of the information contained herein without consulting with qualified legal counsel first and reading this article is not a proper substitute for seeking legal advice of your specific situation.