Americans with Disabilities and Student Housing

Disclaimer: The following is not legal advice and should not be taken as such for construction and remodeling decisions from private property owners.

Ever sinced George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly known as “ADA” is a federal civil-rights law protecting the rights of people with disabilities. The ADA places guidelines for access to a variety of anmities that can contribute to the quality of life for home renter as well.

Originally, the law was brought about by a growing concern that American citizens with disabilities were not properly being addressed and considered in a wide spectrum of daily life scenarios and situations, many of which involved the work place. is fairly broad and addresses many of the obstacles affecting the participation of people with disabilities within society.

Property owners that own property with the intent of rent out housing (student housing landlords) to the general public must adhere to the law, however, it is common knowledge within courts that the law has drawn confusion in the past on certain points that must be met.  This creates confusion for property owners, business CEOs, high level managers, building construction officials, as well as a myriad of other groups whose day to day job responsibilities become more difficult due to the law. Many of the ADA’s civil rights protections parallel the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the protections it established for racial, religious minorities and women.  Credible student housing property managers follow the guidelines the law follows which were created to give college students across the country a better opportunity to enjoy the benefits of freedom that off-campus student housing provides.

ADA has generally done a good job at helping those with disabilities in the past even though some current practices are questionable (emotional support animals).  

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA) added disability and familial status as federally protected classes. FHAA requires that buildings built after March 13, 1991, be constructed with seven specific design features, and to be adaptable. Buildings prior to this do not need to meet the requirement, in fact, ADA has similar rules which give property owners a bit of a break when it comes to the legal required renovations.

Generally speaking, property management companies are not held liable for the ADA compliance.  The most common exception to this statement is when they unless they purposely violate the law.

Real estate agents also need to be aware of the rules governing the ADA and FHAA even if it goes beyond the scope of their job and may even create liability for them. However, they should be able to refer you to a reputable, professional ADA and FHAA compliance consultant to advise on compliance issues.

Being ADA and FHAA compliant is essential for any real estate agent, property mangement company or landord.