California Attorney and Real Estate Broker Chris Adishian answers the question, “What are some important ‘take-aways’ regarding ADA compliance for commercial landlords?” at the South Bay Association of Realtors’ event, “Commercial Attorney Panel-Hot Legal Issues for Commercial Real Estate” on March 5, 2014.
What are some important “take-aways” regarding ADA compliance for commercial landlords?
Answer: “I didn’t realize we were going to get on this topic, but this is such an important topic and it’s been well covered by the panel, but there are a few take-aways I think that everyone in this room who’s got some commercial property, particularly, or even a multi-family residential should take away.
One is: the designation is CASP, as Bill said, and I think it might be even on the Department of Bureau Real Estate website, there’s a whole list of consultants. This is money well spent. Don’t try to figure out the regulations by yourself, it’s impossible. There are so many regulations and these consultants have some software, they’ll go visit your building, and they’ll generate a report that’s maybe 20-40 pages with pictures; ‘Here’s the rule, here’s what you have. Either it’s in compliance or it’s not in compliance. Here’s why this thing should be an inch and a half higher or an inch and a half lower. Your wheelchair access should be this wide instead of this wide.’ Use the consultant. It’s a little bit of money, but well worth it and it’s a defensive mechanism too, and they turn around these reports pretty fast.
We’ve had it done on two separate buildings and it’s very valuable, and you cannot replicate that level of accuracy or information without using a consultant. So if you have this concern, it’s a CASP consultant, get a referral, get someone out there to look at your property. Then you can give it to your landlord or your client and say, ‘Hey look, he says you’ve got to do 85 different things to bring your building into compliance.’ Well then you have a business issue. ‘How many of these are musts? How many of these are probablies? And how many of these are ‘Look I can’t do that this year or never or it’s a minor issue, it’s not significant?’’
And the other thing to keep in mind, to take-away, is that these lawsuits, they work kind of like in a different area of law. They’re high-volume lawsuits, generally low-dollar values, still you don’t want to pay it, but they’re usually in the $2,000-$10,000, $2,000-$20,000 range. There are some outliers, but this is where an attorney with a particular client will target like the 800 block of Sepulveda, and just go up and down the block and then the letters will follow. And that’s how this is done; it’s a means of enforcement, that’s how the legislature chose to enforce it.
And the other take-away I would say for Mo’s story is if you’re an owner of a real estate asset or a business or a multi-family, open your mail and read it, and if it has a letter from an attorney, don’t throw it away. We attorneys are not known for being quitters, we don’t give up, we just look, ‘Oh great, that person’s ignoring us, let’s just go forward.’ And the law is what they call a compulsory process: you can’t opt out once you get sued, you either appear or you’re going to get a default judgment against you.”
Adishian Law Group is a California law firm with a statewide practice in the areas of Corporate law, Employment law, Real Estate law and Mediation Services. Adishianlaw.com is one of the oldest continually operating law firm websites on the Internet. The firm serves its clientele via three offices located in the major business hubs of El Segundo, Palo Alto and San Francisco. As of March 2013, Adishian Law Group, P.C. has represented individual and corporate clients located across 20 California counties, 4 States outside of California and 9 foreign countries — in over 340 legal matters.
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