We recently received a question from a board regarding the renovation of their clubhouse. The planned renovation included the removal of a bathroom. The board wisely contacted their City Planning Commission and was told that if a currently existing bathroom was removed, then another bathroom in the clubhouse would have to be compliant with the rules of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The Board contacted us to confirm that removal of one bathroom in the clubhouse would require another bathroom to be renovated and made compliant with the ADA.
The ADA grants civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities and guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, State and local government services, transportation, and telecommunications. The requirement to provide equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations is the part of the Act that would apply to restrooms in an association clubhouse that is open to association members and their guests.
State laws and local building codes must have accessibility requirements that meet or exceed the minimum requirements for public accommodations under the ADA. Accordingly, when a building is renovated, the renovations have to comply with current building codes which all include the ADA requirements.
If an association renovates its clubhouse or other public use areas, the renovations must meet the building code and ADA requirements. If a restroom is removed, then major renovations are being undertaken and the clubhouse will need to be ADA compliant. However, if the association is only redecorating, such as installing new carpet and paint, then the ADA requirements do not need to be met.
Before undertaking major renovations of a public use area, a community association needs to consider the local building code and ADA requirements and the additional costs that may be associated with making the area ADA compliant.