The recent ADA lawsuit scare has had some landlords behaving strangely.
One of our clients a few months ago was sued by her landlord for not making ADA upgrades.
This is a troubling turn of events. It’s in the ADA that one’s responsibility cannot be passed onto another. The way the chips fell in this case was that the landlord had his tenant sign an updated lease otherwise he would not renew the contract with her. There was a clause in this contract which stated that she was to perform all necessary ADA upgrades to become ADA compliant within 45 days of signing the lease.
She obviously did not know what this meant.
She signed the lease, and was later sued by her landlord for failing to enlarge the restroom.
In this situation, we do not have a complaint stemming from a violation of the ADA — we have a complaint stemming from a breach of contract.
How everything stands from here depends on what can be reasonably understood by both parties as being their responsibility within the ADA — and if when signing she understood what ADA upgrades entailed.
Nonetheless, tenants should more than ever educate themselves about what ADA compliance means, and in all cases at least 1) get an estimate for the work and 2) inform their landlord of the issues with a report of their shared liability. Landlords are legally required to comply with the ADA as well — but this tactic does provide an interesting twist. We’ll have to see if he is successful at forcing his tenant to pay for all the upgrades.
Thoughts? Comment below, or write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have specific questions about your own fiduciary responsibilities, you can call us at 866 982 3212.