J.G. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Mister Condo replies:
J.G., the short answer is “it depends” and what it depends upon is a few different things. If the building has any other function than to house residents, it may be considered private property and not subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If there were general public access required to the building like a club house that was rented out or a gymnasium where memberships were sold, then the building would have to comply with the ADA and have accessible entrances.
If individual homeowners make a request of the Board to have an entrance for a disabled resident, the Board needs to review the request and then decide whether or not to grant the request. In most cases, the Board would have to grant the request as a reasonable accommodation. However, the Board is under no obligation to pay for the disabled entrance modification. In other words, the ramp, automatic door, etc. would be at the expense of the requesting homeowner. Also, the Board can assign maintenance and repair expense to that unit owner to make sure that the entrance continues to work. The Board would have the final say on the plans so a licensed contractor would have to be hired and then submit plans for the Board to approve before work could begin.
Ideally, the Board would simply review the request and weigh it against the number of residents who would benefit from a building that is friendly to folks with disabilities and the potential increase to property value for offering a disabled-friendly entrance. If the benefits outweigh the cost it would make perfect business sense to install and maintain a disabled-friendly entrance system. As the population ages and mobility challenges become more common, that might be the right path for the Board to take. My advice is to ask nicely and see what action the Board takes. If the Board denies the request outright, it might be time to seek legal counsel and see what outcome that brings. Good luck!