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Condo association board stalling on chair lift for elderly

Posted on Thu, May 20, 2010 @ 02:33 PM
My sister lives in Seminole county FL in a 2nd floor condo. My 93 year mother has lived with her for 5 years. Our mother broke her hip, had surgery and is in a nursing home for the last 2 months. My mom wants to come home and my sister wants her home in the 2nd floor condo. Before our mother broke her hip, she climbed the 17 stairs. Now she would not be able to as she is still recuperating. My sister wants to install a chair lift on the stairs leading to her condo. The condo association has been delaying a decision with various excuses like our elderly mother does not own the condo herself. They also said that it was a liability to install a stair lift and now told my sister that she would be required to pay for a 1,000,000 condo association insurance policy. They also now want a criminal, credit and predictor background check conducted on our 93 year old mother (to be paid for by my sister as well). We can't believe that this is happening. We need advice and help right away! What should our next steps be? YDCK7DS7S9SB



Fire laws (in Minnesota) say that there can be no obstacles in the common areas of corridors and stairways. You may want to check out Florida regulations.

posted @ Thursday, May 20, 2010 7:01 AM by nellie lavendar

I would think that they would be required to allow this under the Americans with disabilities act. Have you looked into that?

posted @ Thursday, May 20, 2010 7:06 AM by Christine Rich

The American Dis. Act only applies to commercial real estate, ie: restaurants, etc. not privately owned condos. And as far as fire code goes, the stair in question is only used by the homeowner and her mother, no one else uses that staircase. When I asked condo assoc. what if there is a fire how could I get my mother out of condo if she can't walk and we don't have the chairlift...the reply was CALL THE FIRE DEPT. So obviously they are NOT concerned with the disabled 93 year old woman.

posted @ Thursday, May 20, 2010 8:29 AM by Joyce Stringer

That is totally incorrect. The ADA would and could apply. Associations that do not allow for modifications by homeowners with disabilities can and have been successfully sued by private homeowners. 
Basically, the Association only can determine on allowing or not allowing a modification. If you can show that the modification is legal, have filed a request with plans and documents, offered to pay any increased liability insurance (which they can require and would be the homeowner's cost and should be a couple hundred dollars a year, a very easy rider to add to a homeowner policy) and the request is reasonable and will be paid by the unit owner, the association should not reasonably deny the request. The Associaition must have a very valid reason for denying the request. If all factors are true, the Association is not getting good advice from their management agent or attorney. I recommend that they have their attorney review and provide a recommendation right away. The contractor that would install the lift should be able to provide a detailed plan to the Association. The homeowner should also be made to understand that they are responsible for returning the area to original condition. 
The argument about getting your mother out in the event of an emergency is probably not very valid either, though and I wouldn't make it. In the event of an actual emergency, it is more likely for expediency a first responder would help and would carry her. However, the request is not unreasonable. A letter from a physician showing the need for such a device should also be provided as well. It is a lot of work, but the more you have, the less argument there is or at least the less standing the association board has in not approving or in dragging their feet. Find out what the concern is. Ask point blank "What is the issue in approving the modification request?"

posted @ Thursday, May 20, 2010 10:04 AM by Joe Schuirmann

I have done all that ....and my State farm agent said I wasalready covered by my personal condo INS and that they would supply HOA with an endorsement .... The HOA refused to accept saying that is not the INS they want ...all gov officials I call and talk to say the Hoa is more poweful than federal law ..... I feel like a dog chasing his own tail

posted @ Thursday, May 20, 2010 2:05 PM by Joyce stringer

I'd verify with a lawyer but I believe you are covered by the Fair Housing Act. Read up on the Fair Housing Act.  
According to Fair Housing Act it is illegal to Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)  
You can call HUD and file a complaint if need be.  
If the condo association's excuse is that your mother is not an owner then she can be a "tenant" as it looks like it applies to renters as well.  
A lawyer can confirm to you wether condos are excused from this but it seems that they are not.

posted @ Friday, May 21, 2010 11:59 AM by Robert

We had the same problem with our condo board for my elderly mother who had a stroke and who resided in an upstairs condo, a 36 inch stairway which is shared by another. We had to go hire an attorney, which happened to be a city attorney - great for us, as knew all the laws and had the connections. What did it for me was your same argument "what do we do in the case of emergency? Have other residents, or the Board, come and carry her down? How does she get to and from doctor appointments? We were the first in our condo association and were treated terribly. Result? We won (but what it took out of us - treated so ugly; we cried a lot). 1. It is illegal and impossible to pay any insurance for a condo common area - it is the condo association's responsibility and that is why they become so nervous, but this they must do. 2. No building permit is required (this is what they were demanding of us, and when the inspectors came out, the building permit denied, or requested modifications which were impossible). A stair lift only sits on the stairs; does not compromise the building structure at all. No permit required. 3. Fire inspectors did not/would not come out, but as I recall, a passage after installation of the chair lift of 25 inches is sufficient, and after all we went through and said and done, the Board finally conceded. They wanted installed (or at this point demanded removal) by a contractor, but as was explained ad nauseam, stair lifts a plug in items not requiring contractors. Licensed with proof of insurance, agreed - as the installation will be done on common property, but if one wanted to, one could install themselves. Bolt to the stairs and that is it. They still don't get it, but done. I was this close to turn them in to the ADA but it is difficult to figure out how to ... Fair Housing wrote a lot on this. Good luck, you are not alone; when I was going through my trials for my mother, I found quite a bit on this subject, especially when the condo assoc. is a big bully. I called other associations and they said no problem; just supply a doctor's order stating need (this we did) and it goes through the approval process and there you go ... if only.

posted @ Thursday, June 03, 2010 1:14 AM by Duchess

sue condoassociation.com 
They are liable for all the actions of the HOA, and they will pay $160,000 to put the elevator in at no cost to the owner nor the tenant, nor the family member. 
The chair lift is a safety liability, and violates required legal egress requirements. 
No, you can't just put things in that don't comply with the building codes.

posted @ Thursday, June 03, 2010 1:24 AM by miller

Our case was in California and it was determined chair lifts which bolt on the stairs do not require building permits as do not compromise the structure at all (just lay on the stairs and plug into a power supply). My $75 BP was refunded and this became a non-issue (requring a building permit). Legal egress (walking stair width room) was determined satisfactory, mainly by research - the official inches stated in documents + what other condo associations allow. In California, it is provide a doctor's order/certification and present to the Board for approval / notification. If "safe walking width" has already been determined, then there you go. In our case, we were the first ones and our Board only knew to say "no, don't want to," but nothing to back them up. Now another elderly person who owns an upstairs unit needs to install and they are making some of the same noises, but I believe they know they must go ahead. Being a past Board Member I do understand their concern for the association's finaces and responsibilities, but in my case it seemed to have turned into a case of ego / personalities, too.

posted @ Thursday, June 03, 2010 12:00 PM by Duchess

Generally speaking, how much does a chair lift cost to buy and install?

posted @ Thursday, June 03, 2010 12:19 PM by nellie

Outdoor: $4000 
Indoor: $1500 + ... 
Install (for us, an outdoor one): $120.

posted @ Thursday, June 03, 2010 3:46 PM by Duchess

I live on the second floor in a condo I own, in Philadelphia, PA. I need 2 chair lifts, one placed in the common area of the condo, and one outside. I was told that if I wanted a chair lift installed, that I would have to install one in every condo in the complex. What can I do to combat this preposterous idea? I am 87 and I need to know what steps I must take to get this lift, I am essentially housebound without it.

posted @ Sunday, November 13, 2011 2:59 PM by M Boss

What a funny response to try and "block" you ... what usually worries condo boards is that they must assume the insurance risk for the chairlift on their outside property - not add to it by multiplying the number of chair lifts!? 
Here is my advice: Hire an attorney to work with and resolve for you. May cost some but worth it to relieve you from the stress and aggravation in trying to get your rights in this - and you have the right. American with Disabilities act, et al - it is your right to be allowed to have these items installed so you may live your life. There is no need for a permit - the rail is bolted to the stair, not to the structure ... and plugged in. You pay for the chairlift; you pay for the electricity; you apply the safety controls so no one else is able to use the chairlift.  
Take it from me - the absolute hell my condo association put me through in trying to get a chairlift installed after a stroke, until I hired an attorney, who happened to be the city attorney for a neighboring city, I got nowhere. Have him be your voice. In my case the Board kept making up all these conditions without checking the law (permit, didn't pass inspection so remove (not enough egress) and threats ... no care about being housebound. They cannot do it! But you will need to get someone with the knowledge and clout to speak for you.

posted @ Sunday, November 13, 2011 3:42 PM by duchess

But this condo is the woman's home and she should not have to relocate. As others stated, I don't believe you will go far unless you hire a lawyer. Then the issue must be answered. But in reality, no you do not, and cannot, provide "outside" insurance, do not need a building permit, and 9/10 the staircase is large enough for safety for passing.

posted @ Tuesday, July 29, 2014 11:17 PM by Nance

Me, too - completely agree. Where the HOA gets nervous is "risk" and try to get you to agree to paying insurance costs, et al. But, this they cannot do. The HOA is responsible for this and there is no legal way they can make you responsible even if you were agreeable - the "outside" is their responsibility, period. They can make your life miserable, but if an attorney was brought in, like I had to do, there turned out to be no way this "plugged-I piece of equipment" could be denied for the disabled person, even with a stair width access minimum of 32 inches.

posted @ Thursday, October 02, 2014 10:50 PM by Nancy

The same was suggested to me - move my mother. But  
No" ... the condo was my other's home and she wanted her independence. One can recover. It was her right to live in her home and she didn't want to move. What the HOA is doing is typical (worried about "risk" et al). As I've stated before, it is very "winnable" but I had to resort to an attorney. Then I obtained "okay" almost immediately for the reasons that have been stated. So sorry you and parent have to go through this

posted @ Saturday, October 11, 2014 2:31 AM by Nancu

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