IS YOUR BUILDING ADA/ACA COMPLIANT? August 4, 2021 | Maintenance , Management | safety , office space , retail space , restaurant , multi-family property , building renovation The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) both ensure that people with physical limitations are granted the same access to things as those who aren’t. Things such as employment, transportation, and even recreational items like going to the movies are required to have options so that no one is left out. These laws also apply to the construction of commercial properties from apartment buildings to restaurants. As a property owner, it’s important that you know what regulations you have to follow and what can happen if you don’t. Penalties for Not Complying If your building is found to be breaking the ADA or ACA laws, you’ll find yourself in a lot of legal trouble. Hefty fines and lawsuits along with government penalties are difficult to deal with, and can put a lot of strain on you. Plus, you also have to factor in the cost of repairs, which can add on to your already large expenses. There’s also the bad reputation that can follow you through reviews, news stories, and even word of mouth. This can deter future tenants. While there are some overlaps in code for commercial properties, there are some unique ones for each style of property as well. Shopping Centers If you own a property with smaller, independent units like a mall, you’re responsible for checking that they’re in compliance as well. That means you have double the responsibility to check the overall structure and the individual stores. Outside the building, your parking lots need to have a certain number of spaces near the entrance for those who need accommodations. Sidewalks need to have either a ramp or slope to get over the curb, as well as be free of large cracks and gaps in the pavement. Inside, the doors should have an automatic open button and be wide enough to fit devices like wheelchairs or walkers. You also need wide enough aisles that are easy to navigate, and ways to get to other levels of the building if there are any. Restaurants Similar to shopping centers, restaurants require that you have an allotted number of parking spaces set aside for people with limited mobility. There needs to be an easy access such as a ramp to get over curbs, and an adequate entrance to the building. Like malls, restaurants can be tight quarters and hard to maneuver for people with medical equipment. It’s easy for tables and chairs to pack the room, especially at peak hours, so it’s important to be conscientious of everyone. Proper seating for those who can’t lift themselves onto higher chairs or booths also needs to be considered. In restrooms, at least one stall needs to be large enough to fit a wheelchair and have grab bars. Offices An office space requires the same parking lot, entrance, and hallway accommodations as restaurants and malls. Since offices tend to be more uniform and set for a specific number of people, it makes organization easier and keeps walkways clear. However, each person’s workstation may need its own accommodations for them to work effectively. Adjustable desks allow people to find a comfortable position. Some people may require certain electronics, and therefore need access to more outlets and hookups. Multi-Family Apartments and other multi-family properties are a bit trickier when it comes to accommodations. While the individual rooms themselves don’t necessarily have to meet certain standards, the main building and common areas do. Entrances, parking lots, and hallways have the same space and sizing requirements that other commercial properties do. Inside the rooms, it’s up to the landlord’s discretion how they want to design them and make them accessible. Be Sure to Follow the Rules! The ADA and ACA help protect people in need of accommodations and ensure that every space is accessible. That’s why you need to check and follow all local, state, and federal guidelines as they pertain to you. For more information, check out the ADA and ACA official websites. With offices in the U.S. and Canada, NPI has local licensed inspectors available to assist you with your commercial property needs. To find an inspector near you, call our National Accounts Department at 1-800-333-9807 ext. 30. For more information, visit npicommercial.com/contact.