Homeowner associations are private residential communities and are not subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, those portions of the common areas open to the public must comply with ADA requirements. (Coronado v. Cobblestone Village.)
Common Area Modifications. Disabled residents are allowed to make alterations to their units or the common areas at their own expense to accommodate their disability. (Civ. Code §4760) This may include the installation of a wheelchair ramp, handrails, or some other accommodation. The right to modify the common areas is subject to the following conditions:
1. Alterations may not impair the structural integrity or mechanical systems or lessen the support of any portions of the development.
2. Alterations must be consistent with applicable building codes.
3. Alterations must be consistent with the governing documents pertaining to safety or aesthetics.
4. Alterations must not prevent reasonable passage by other residents and must be removed when the unit is no longer occupied by persons requiring the modifications. [NOTE: The requirement to remove is not automatic. If the alterations adversely affect subsequent occupants, the association may have a basis for requiring their removal. Otherwise, the improvements can be left in place.]
5. Owners who intend to make modifications must submit plans to the association and the association may not disapprove them without good cause.
Licensed Contractor. Boards can require that any modifications to the common areas be done in a workmanlike manner by a licensed and insured contractor with appropriate building permits.
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.