Condo Front Stoop Safety Handrail – Who Pays?

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J.L. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a 55+ common interest community. My physical condition at 70+ yrs. of age has changed and I can no longer enter my front entrance without assistance. In addition, I am on continuous oxygen. There is one high step up to the stoop/front porch landing. Currently there is no handrail to grab onto to assist me with stepping up so I can enter the front door of my unit. It is my understanding that the front stoop/porch is a limited common element.

My question: “Who is responsible for the installation expense of a handrail on the front stoop/porch landing to my unit for assisting me to safely enter the front door of my unit?”

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

Mister Condo replies:

J.L., an aging condo population is quite common in Connecticut. There have been quite a few 55+ communities built in the past few years and there are many more on the horizon. As we advance in years increased mobility challenges often surface. You are certainly not alone in your situation and you raise a great question. Condominium associations across the state often face similar challenges. I reached out to an attorney who specializes in community association law for a legal opinion on what your options are. Here’s the advice:

“You are responsible for the installation expense of the handrail. Federal law says that the association must allow a unit owner to make reasonable modifications to the unit and/or limited common elements to accommodate the owner’s physical disability.  The unit owner must arrange and pay for the installation, and the board cannot use rules against altering building exteriors as a reason for withholding permission so long as the modification is reasonable and necessary for the purpose.”

That certainly makes sense to me and sounds like a practical solution. Best wishes and good luck with your new handrail!

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