R.R. from Cameron County, Texas writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I bought a condo and that is not handicap ready. I need to build a full wheelchair bath room, but I have to move the back door. I was told that HOA will not let me move the back door 36 in. to the side because all the condos have to look alike.
Mister Condo replies:
R.R., I appreciate the situation you find yourself in and I am sorry for your predicament. As a handicapped individual, you have housing rights that very likely supersede what the HOA is telling you. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is fairly clear that condominium associations and HOAs are considered providers of housing in the eyes of the law. As such, they must review each application and decide on whether or not to grant the application. They cannot simply hide behind their governing documents because federal law trumps their governing documents. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column. My advice to you is that you speak with a locally qualified attorney who handles ADA matters and have the attorney draft the letter to the HOA Board with his or her opinion on the law. You may even find yourself suing your association if the attorney recommends it. All the best!
3 thoughts on “ADA Versus Condo Conformity”
My understanding is that the ADA applies only to facilities that provide a public accommodation, so I think that this leaves out a residential condominium. I do believe that the situation being discussed would be ruled on by the Fair Housing Act and/or the Housing for Older Persons Act.
Please clarify and thanks for all your guidance in your blog.
J.G., I am not an attorney so please don’t take my reply as legal. I live in a large HOA and I can tell you that in the eyes of the HUD and the FHA, we are considered a “provider of housing” and, as such, are subject to the provisions of the ADA. If the Board flat out denies the application citing solely Architectural conformity, I believe they would be opening themselves up to a legal challenge. It is completely possible that they can find the request “unreasonable” and deny it based on that but if they simply deny the request without considering the access issue for the owner, there could be a problem. That is why I suggest the association discuss the matter with their attorney before issuing an approval or denial of the request. All the best!
J.G, as a further note, an attorney friend of mine added: My understanding is that the ADA does not apply to condominium associations unless they allow the public to use their clubhouse, pool, recreation facilities, etc. for a fee. The FHA does apply, however, and the Board would have to allow him to make a “reasonable modification” for a medical disability.
Look up Fair Housing Act. Also look up HUD.gov They also have info