Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 USC §§ 3601-3631, was enacted by the U.S. Congress. It provides broad civil rights protections to persons with defined disabilities. Those protections prohibit, under certain circumstances, discrimination on the basis of disability similar to those which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, sex and religion.

Public Accommodations
Title III of the ADA addresses discrimination in areas of public accommodations and commercial facilities. It provides that “no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.” (42 U.S.C. §1282(a).) Under most circumstances, the residential and recreational facilities of a private common interest development do not constitute places of “public accommodation” which would be subject to ADA requirements. Those facilities are not “designed and intended to provide services, goods, privileges to members of the public, usually in exchange for payment (and when not requiring payment, often motivated by some other advantage to the entity providing the accommodation, such as promoting its good will to the community.).” (Carolyn v. Orange Park Community Association (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1090, 1104.)

There are, however, facilities within a common interest development that may be held to be places of public accommodation. Those facilities include:

  • A sales or rental office receiving public traffic;
  • Commercial facilities that are part of a residential project;
  • A meeting room leased to the general public for a fee, but not one used solely by association members;
  • A swimming pool, tennis court, or other recreational facility that is open to members of the general public; and
  • Day care centers, senior citizen centers, refreshment stands, and meeting rooms that are occasionally rented to business or civic groups. (Carolyn v. Orange Park Community Assn. (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1090, 1103.)

Public Use of Private Common Area Facilities
A common interest development’s common area facilities (i.e., parking lots, swimming pools, equestrian trails, etc.) which are not open to members of the general public are not places of public accommodation that are subject to ADA requirements. Additionally, those facilities do not “transform into public accommodations merely because [the association] does not actively exclude members of the public from using [them].” (Carolyn v. Orange Park Community Assn. (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1090, 1104.)

Accommodations For Disabled Residents
A private homeowners association may be required to allow a disabled resident to make alterations to the resident’s unit or to the association’s common area at the resident’s expense in order to accommodate the resident’s disability. (See “Architectural Accommodations for Disabled Residents.”)

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Related Topics

Related Statutes

Related Case Law

  • Coronado v. Cobblestone Village Community Rentals
    (2009) 163 Cal.App.4th 831

    [Discrimination; ADA Compliance] Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related federal regulations implementing the ADA do not apply to portions of private residential facilities that are not open to the general public.

  • Carolyn v. Orange Park Community Association
    (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1090

    [Discrimination; ADA Compliance] HOA’s private common area facilities not held to be places of “public accommodation” subject to Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements

Related Links

Disabled Residents and the Law
“The Legal Obligations of an Association in Accommodating Disabled Residents”
Educational article published by HOA attorneys of Tinnelly Law Group

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended
Current text of the ADA