What is fair housing drive-by accessibility testing? How can it impact your properties? Join us as we discuss how a simple car ride can turn into a lawsuit costing you thousands of dollars.
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What is Drive-By Accessibility?
Drive-by accessibility testing is relatively common, with lawsuits popping up all over the country. Essentially, drive-by accessibility is when an individual drives around looking for properties that violate accessibility laws. Once they find one, they take pictures and file a suit.
There are usually two types of testers. Those that work with an advocacy group or state agency and those that are purely doing this to make a living. The latter usually have teamed up with a lawyer and are not required to apply to the property or even live there.
When all is said and done, regardless of who files the lawsuit, having visible accessibility issues is going to cost your property management company a lot of money.
The On-Going Cost of Accessibility Non-Compliance
Once a lawsuit has been filed, a new set of problems can arise. The plaintiff in the case can now inspect the whole property, inside and out. Each additional finding is going to cost you more money. You will have to pay to correct all accessibility issues identified, damages to the tester, and all attorney fees. A costly process indeed!
Common Examples of Outside Accessibility Issues
So what are these testers looking for? The most common accessibility issues that we see are as follows:
- No accessible parking spaces
- No access aisle
- No signage
- No curb cut or clear path to the main entrance
All of the above are fairly common and easily remedied. Remember that ADA law states that for every 25 parking spaces, you must have one accessible space, regardless of the age of the building. The Fair Housing Act also comes into play for buildings that were built after March of 1991.
Some properties have fallen into the flawed thinking that they can just slap some paint on a few spots and call it a day. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You need to ensure that you have adequate signage that clearly identifies accessible parking. Also, there needs to be an access aisle for vans, along with curb cuts and a clear path to the main entrance. By having these already in place, testers are likely going to keep on driving.
Plan Now or Pay Later
Identifying any accessibility issue now will save you money in the long run. You should know about any potential problems before anyone else does. A best practice is to hire an accessibility consultant or attorney to complete an inspection of your property and immediately form a plan to address any violations found.
While this can seem overwhelming and pricey initially, a lawsuit can be so much more costly and time-consuming. A good rule of thumb is to start with the most visible issue and work your way down your list until you have tackled all your accessibility issues.
Drive-by accessibility testers are out there. By following the tips here and ensuring that you are up to date with both ADA laws and The Fair Housing Act, you can encourage them to keep right on driving.
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