Steep Common Entrance Poses Challenge for Recently Handicapped Unit Owner

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M.A. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My mother has become handicapped and can no longer manage the steep step to enter the common entrance of her condo. I find it steep myself, and I am able bodied. When she had cinderblocks placed to make a step half way between the large step, the building management said this was illegal and will not offer to do anything to assist. Handicap problems are new to us and I don’t know what to do. I don’t like my mom being prisoner in her own condo.

Mister Condo replies:

M.A., while cinder blocks may not be an acceptable solution for your problem you do have rights. I am not an attorney so please accept my advice as friendly and not legal. For a legal opinion, kindly consult with a qualified attorney. When unit owners face any type of disability challenge, they should immediately write to the condo association’s Board of Directors, which is usually done through the property manager (the same folks who informed you that the cinder blocks were unacceptable). While the Board does not have to modify the entrance to the building, they must allow for “reasonable accommodation” which may include a ramp or other solution so as to allow access and egress to the building. Keep in mind that the modification to the building may be at your expense. The Board has to all for “reasonable modification”; they don’t have to pay for it. However, if there are multiple residents who have similar access issues, the Board may be persuaded to not only allow but also actually pay for the modification even though they are under no mandate to do so. Write that letter and find out what the Board will allow. It isn’t likely to be cinder blocks but it should solve your problem. All the best!

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