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Does condo association need to install handicap railings for owner?

Posted on Thu, Feb 09, 2012 @ 06:35 AM
The Condominium complex which I live in has 116 units. Its a suburban area with sloping hills and landscape. Very well maintained and home to the young and old. One of the residents has requested a railing be installed on her walkway as she has had knee surgery. The Board of managers feels it would change the landscape of the community and set a trend. She is a long time resident however, she did not purchase one of the handicapped accessible units. Is there a responsibility or could liability be incurred if this resident falls. Some on the Board stated railing or no railing, there will be liability so why install one and change the landscape of the community. This is not a senior housing community. Could someone please advise how you are handling these situations. I look forward to your suggestions.




posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 6:51 AM by al raimer

Why not install the railing for all who request one? Then assess all who request it on the grounds that it will be a "LIMITED COMMON AREA." Of course check with an attorney ...

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 7:06 AM by john radbill

One size does not fit all. Allow the lady to pay to have a handrail installed.

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 7:11 AM by Kay Borden

If the lady is considered handicapped and can present the Board with a physicians letter stating this, then you MUST install the railing according to the ADA. It's Federal law to accommodate the handicap.

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 7:25 AM by cebo

What about the Americans with Disabilities Act?

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 7:26 AM by brenda fh briggs

Check with your decs,state, and city laws regarding obligations for the disabled and handicapped. I wonder if you have explored to see if modifications could be made that would make the walk way safer without spoiling the view? 
It could be naive to think that you will only have one person to deal with, as you mentioned that there is more than one elderly person. This will likely arise again. Consider consulting an attorney with expertise in this area for the sound advice. 

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 7:34 AM by serola

What about the Americans with Disabilities Act? 
It may not apply to condo Associations. Check into this....

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 7:48 AM by brenda fh briggs

Maryland Chapter of Community Associations Institute has a seminar next Wed, Feb 15, on Americans with Disability Act plus related general questions of accommodating residents. 
All boards need to stay aware of the requirements imposed by this Act which truly are for the benefit of the community. No person can predict when they may need modifications installed.  
Will update this question following that seminar.  

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 7:50 AM by Nancy Jacobsen

Some of the answers here make me shake my head. The one that stated the board should consult legal counsel is the one that made the most sense. 
Condominiums are required to maintain the common elements according to the documents - Master Deed, CC&R's, etc. This is a modification, so any modification (temporary or permanent) should have a process. 
Condominiums, under federal law, are not required to make changes to existing buildings or structures under ADA; they MUST ALLOW the homeowner to make the changes. For example, she becomes disabled and needs a ramp for a wheelchair to gain entry to her unit. The homeowner must submit a modification request. The board cannot deny this request, but can ask for reasonable accomodations. The homeowner must pay for the modifications, not the association. The homeowner is also liable and responsible to restore the area to "original condition" once the modification is no longer needed; if the unit owner sells or passes away. 
There is no reason 115 other homeowners should foot the bill for a railing for a neighbor. Now, if someone wants to take up a collection to help her offset the cost, that is a wonderful and charitable thing to do.  
The railing can be permanent or it can be temporary. That could be worked out between the board and the homeowner.  
Now, if the unit owner whose knee is bad has many neighbors who also wish a railing along this area for other reasons, they may all get together, appoint a spokesperson and have them present to the board why communal funds should be used to provide an addition and benefit to multiple homeowners - that is also reasonable. If the board wants to look at installing railings on multiple walkways for safety, that is also reasonable. Input from your township, building codes and even a civil engineer may be good people to consult. 
This of course does not include any modifications required by municipalities, states or the federal government. For example, if the community replaces sidewalks, they may have to put in ramped areas with a special knobbed concrete for both wheelchair and the blind. On private communities and roads, this may not be required, but on ones with public access, it may be required. Same with buildings with mixed use, such as a high-rise. If the general public has access, it is a different story and the association may be required to make the change. This is most likely not the case here, and the board has no requirements. That doesn't mean they shouldn't look into it and get a feeling from the community by possibly doing a poll or survey.

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 7:58 AM by Joe Schuirmann

I wrote a lot, and what may get lost is this - the board should ask themselves these questions: 
1. Is this something we are required to do? 
2. Is this something that legally we can do? 
3.Is this something that homeowners want us to do? 
4. Is this something we must allow to be done? 
5. Is this something that if we aren't required to allow, we should allow? (What is reasonable?) 
6.Who should bear the cost?

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 8:03 AM by Joe Schuirmann

Why would accomidating a neighbor be a problem? The ADA does apply to condos, but should it be such a problem to install a railing? One thing for sure, as Serola states: the need will not stop at one individual, none of us (including you folks) is getting younger. 
Good luck & kindness to you all.

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 8:04 AM by Kate from Hackensack

What about the Americans with Disabilities Act? 
It may not apply to condo Associations. Check into this....

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 8:05 AM by brenda fh briggs

I am a disabled person who became disabled after moving into my condo. While I would like my condo Association to meet my needs as a disabled person (and they have not) I certainly do not think that the Association should pay to meet those needs by paying for them and I would hope that no Association is required to do so. Maintaining the units that are designated as disabled units is another matter. I do not think that the Association should pay to convert my unit into a disabled unit.

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 8:09 AM by Lynn

Agree 100% with Joe Schuirmann. 
My condo association has the whole process outlined. My condo project has 1st and 2nd floor units. Because the buildings do not have elevators, the ADA rules apply only to the 1st floor units. 
The individual unit owner is responsible for making the alteration, maintaining any added structure such as a ramp, and also the removal if it is no longer needed. The unit owner must provide the board with copies of permits if required by the city. 
My condo board must first approve the alteration just to make sure a unit owner is not going to use up an unnecessary amount of common area. 
Rails and ramps are not always a very attractive addition. However, if you need one, and it could happen to any of us, a rail or ramp suddenly becomes the most beautiful thing.

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 9:12 AM by Troy

Joe Schuirmann is 100% correct. 
HOAs and Condominimums are private associations as the result ADA does not apply. ADA only applies to public access spaces. 
What does apply in HOAs is Fair Housing set of laws. While they are based on ADA definitions they are different. 
Under Fair Housing HOAs must accommodate owners with disabilities, but such accommodations must be paid fully by the owner, not the association. Moreover when the owner moves out of the association or is no longer disabled he/she must remove those modification at his/her own cost. 
To sum it up. If you require railing due to your disability you must submit a request following rules of your community. You must provide description of your disability and whatever supporting documents you have (there are specific requirements what you may need to provide). Your request may not be unreasonably denied unless the HOA can suggest/find other ways to accommodate your need.  
Once you receive your approval you can proceed with constructing railings at your own cost. 

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 10:02 AM by Jeff Ross

I had knee surgery twice. There is never a need for railings. Wheelchairs, walkers, canes are all used during the recovery period. Once healed most don't need anything. This includes elderly people like me -- 90 years old.

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 10:32 AM by

Knee surgery recovery is rather quick. I have both replaced 7 months ago and never required a railing. It would have been nice but never necessary. As president of a 74 unit condo HOA in WA we consider a temporary physical problem just that.

posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 10:45 AM by Grant

The writer never said the resident was disabled just that she had knee surgery. When I had a total knee replacement I never would have asked for such a thing - it was a temporary condition. Whether the condo put up a railing or she paid for it I think it would have been unnecessary. The issue of not purchasing a handicapped unit is different altogether. People grow older, situations occur and lives change. Lots of us are part of the boomer generation and best think about where we might be headed and how we might like to be treated as we consider changing rules in condos or HOA's.

posted @ Sunday, February 12, 2012 8:57 AM by linda

My grandma would like to have a new railing installed in her home. She relies on it so much when going up and down the stairs. I have heard that they have glass railings that you can install, that add a really special look to your stair case. Maybe I could convince her to put something like that in her house. http://www.careflections.com/glass-railing-systems.nxg

posted @ Monday, July 07, 2014 12:14 PM by Edmond Vandergraff

I agree with what's been said. If it were a disability, then the liability is much greater without a handrail. The Disability Act is an extremely hard one to fight. A surgery, however, should not take more than a few months to heal and then the resident would go back to not needing a railing. Good luck. 
Jenn | http://www.riversideironworks.ca/en/products_and_services.html

posted @ Monday, July 07, 2014 1:16 PM by Jennifer Davies

For a surgery, the condo association probably does not need to install a railing. If anything, they could put a temporary fence in place. But they don't have the responsibility to do anything. When my brother had his liposuction, I came and stayed with him to help him recover and get around in the immediate aftermath. 
Jenn | http://www.iowaplasticsurgery.com

posted @ Saturday, July 19, 2014 11:01 AM by Jennifer Davies

For something temporary, a permanent railing should not be installed. Especially if there are already ample railings so the condo meets code. A temporary help could be built for her, but there's no need to change the landscape completely around one person. 
| http://www.jakob-usa.com/solutions/cable-railing/

posted @ Wednesday, August 06, 2014 10:50 AM by Marcus Fillion

My mom lives in a condo and recently had major knee surgery. I really think it would be nice if the condo took care of her handicap needs that will result from the surgery. It's hard enough to find a good place to get surgery. Dealing with the aftermath can be even harder. Hopefully everything works out! http://www.newyorksurgicalpartners.com/

posted @ Monday, September 15, 2014 9:09 PM by Tyrone

I guess some folks think it is nice to have someone else pay their bills, perhaps your Mom is a little more independent than that. However, not an issue here, between PT & practice your Mom should do just fine with walker &/or canes. The orthodocs want her weightbearing for healing purposes. 
You are worried over nothing. 
BTW, hosp for Special Surgery in NYC is onr of the best ortho surgy places, should not be hard when she is ready for next atkr. 
C. Lewis, RN, MSN,2 x TKR candidate

posted @ Tuesday, September 16, 2014 2:15 PM by CATHERINE LEWIS

Stairs can be difficult to navigate. Elderly people have a harder time with stairs than most. We should be sensitive to their needs by installing easy-to-climb stairs and necessary safety equipment. 

posted @ Tuesday, September 23, 2014 7:40 PM by Derrick Sly

It really depends on what the local, state, & federal codes state regarding handicapped handrails. I know our HOA has designated a few condos that are handicapped asses-sable/compliant. If further adjustments need to be made, they're pretty good at working to find a solution so no-one is denied based on any physical disabilities. http://www.avdr.ca

posted @ Monday, September 29, 2014 6:36 PM by Sam Gibson

That's a good question. Honestly, I would suggest installing a railing. That's the easiest way to please the residents and also ensure their safety. I'm sure you can find a way to install it cheaply, as well. http://www.reevesfence.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4

posted @ Friday, November 14, 2014 2:50 PM by Cathy

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