Monday, February 19, 2018

House Approves ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017

The US House of Representatives approved the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017” or H.R. 620 with a 225-192 vote. This Bill will change the face of commercial real estate disability law immediately when signed by the President. Specifically, the Bill provides for a new notice and cure period as a condition precedent to civil suit. As such, commercial property owners should immediately implement a policy to demonstrate good faith that is triggered by receipt of a notice. Further, defense counsel should leverage this new law as a procedural basis to dismiss claims against commercial real estate clients.

As an aside, the Bill also provides for educational programs designed to promote public accommodations for persons with a disability, but such programs will require regulations prior to implementation so it is unknown how such programs will ultimately look. Regardless, the Bill provides for training of professionals whose job it is to assess accessibility of properties, such as Certified Access Specialists (CASp). The CASp program was created through California Senate Bill 262 and currently, New York does not have a similar program in place. Nonetheless, New York commercial real estate professionals may hire accessibility specialists certified by the International Code Council or similar programs.

As such, commercial real estate professionals should immediately learn more about these specialists to obtain an immediate assessment of their properties as it seems that a positive finding of compliance will be a good mitigator to suit.

To track H.R. 620’s progress through the Senate, use Govtrack.