July 1st: May be Able to Deter ADA Plaintiff’s Lawsuits With New ADA-Focused Inspections

Real Estate Law  

March 5, 2010

New ADA-Focused Building Inspections

On September 29, 2008, Senate Bill 1608 was signed by the governor and passed into law. Among other things, the bill does the following:

  • Landowners must now directly sign all key reports.
  • The bill requires local agencies to “hire or retain” an inspector through a Certified Access Specialist program by July 1, 2010. By January 1, 2014, local agencies must hire enough inspectors to conduct permitting and plan check services for new construction and tenant improvements.
  • Building owners who voluntarily opt for site inspections by a Certified Access Specialist receive certain procedural benefits if they are sued for an alleged violation of disability access requirements, including a 90 day stay on litigation and an early evaluation conference.
  • If a site meets applicable construction-related accessibility standards, the Certified Access Specialist is required to issue an inspection report that identifies the site and states that, in the opinion of the inspector, the site meets accessibility requirements. If corrections were made as a result of the inspection, the report will also include a list of these corrections and the dates of completion.
  • Sites that pass inspection may purchase and post a certificate or placard indicating their good-faith compliance with the requirements.

Despite all of this, inspector approval is not enough to prove ADA compliance in a law suit. However, participation in this new compliance program may reward good faith building owners with an effective deterrent against abusive ADA litigation.

Please note that the information contained in this newsletter is not intended to provide specific legal advice. You should consult with an attorney and not rely on any information contained herein regarding your specific situation.