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How much of an apartment building must be accessible to all tenants?

When it is time to look for a new place to live, many factors go into the decision. For a person with disabilities, those factors need to include accessibility.

While many apartment buildings may boast varying levels of accessible apartments, it is also essential to look at the other building areas to ensure you can get around the property easily.

When it comes to making apartments accessible, these are some of your landlord’s obligations to make the area usable for everyone.

The ADA does not apply everywhere

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is crucial legislation for helping people with disabilities access the places they go every day, including their apartments. Unfortunately, not all spaces can be accessible without putting an unreasonable financial burden on landlords.

In most cases, landlords need to make sure the public areas of the building are accessible, such as:

  • Lobbies
  • Rental offices
  • Parking lots
  • Community rooms open available for public access (other than residents and their guests)

Amenities for residents of an apartment building do not need to be accessible for people of all abilities since these are not available for general public use.

Accessible versus adaptable

When it comes to units in an apartment building, it would be impossible for a landlord to be prepared for any accommodation a person could request. Rather than have units with varying accessibility, landlords need to have apartments that can easily adapt for reasonable accommodations, such as:

  • Accessible entrances
  • Reachable outlets, thermostats and switches
  • Accessible bathrooms
  • Reinforced walls to accommodate grab bars

It is important to note that not all units must be adaptable. Buildings with no elevator should have units on the ground floor that are adaptable, but landlords do not need to make ADA modifications to apartments on upper levels. When a building has at least one elevator, there may be a need to have adaptable units on the upper floors.

It can be challenging to request accommodations for a disability. It is critical to talk to a future landlord about your accessibility needs so that the landlord can make appropriate accommodations.