ADA Alterations- Determining What is Readily Achievable
Property managers must make all alterations to comply to ADA regulations that are considered readily achievable, but how can you determine what exactly that means? This blog post relays just how to do so.
As a property manager, you are held liable for regulations enforced under The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding your building’s accessibility. Of course, it is not always feasible to fully comply to ADA standards due to the costs of time and money involved with some of the alterations required. This is why ADA has introduced the concept of being “readily achievable:” If alterations to comply with ADA are not readily achievable for you at a certain point in time, you will not be penalized for your property’s lack of accessibility during that time. How can we define the term “readily achievable?” Holistically, readily achievable is meant to mean alterations that can be made to a property that are “easily accomplished without much difficulty or expense.”
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Sounds nice and everything, but what exactly does that mean? We wish there was a cut and dry answer for you, but the reason that what is “readily achievable” is ambiguous as it is is because the outcome of the reasonableness test used to assess what does and does not fall under this category varies greatly depending on a property’s management, size and resources. Therefore, in order to determine what is readily achievable on your property, you will have to rely on your own assessments that make sense for your particular business.
Your assessment of your property should include finding any limits to accessibility (violations of ADA regulations). From there, you can assess and create record of what each alteration will cost and prioritize them based on this and their urgency. We recommend including a timeline of when you hope to achieve each alteration by. Assessments like these should be continuous and regular, as new violations to ADA regulations can arise all the time based on changes to the law itself and/or changes to your property or the environment around it.
The good news here is that simply by running an assessment of your property to see what alterations must be made and which ones are readily achievable for you at the moment, you are already providing yourself/your property with some litigious protection. Should any sort of suit involving ADA arise, via your records kept, you will be able to provide proof that you are aware of any shortcomings in alterations, demonstrate reasoning for why you do not consider it readily achievable at that time and show that you do have plans for how to implement this change in the future.
Examples of alterations that typically WILL be considered readily achievable on most properties:
In many cases, in order to meet ADA requirements, it may only take a minor modification. Here are some examples:
– Lowering of your property’s phones
– Installation of grab bars during a customary wall installment
– Ramping of a small number of steps
Hopefully, by having a better understanding of what may be considered readily achievable and how to determine what that means for your property, a little bit of weight has been lifted off your shoulders in knowing that you are not generally expected to make drastic changes overnight and how to protect yourself in the event that an alteration is not feasible for you at a particular time. While alterations should be a priority, the clause of ready achievability typically eliminates unrealistic expectations. For more information and frequently asked questions regarding The American Disabilities Act, including how to get financial help for ADA compliance, see our free guide: The Property Manager’s Guide to ADA. To learn more about Kings III, visit www.kingsiii.com.
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