ADA compliance is important in all public spaces, but rapidly changing laws and requirements can make it hard for retail owners to keep up. As a result, these owners are often hit with ADA-compliance lawsuits, sometimes justified and sometimes frivolous, that can come with sizable settlements. Rick Rivera of CBM says that he is recommending that all retail landlords take proactive steps to mitigate loss from these lawsuits.
“ADA compliance has become one of the hot topics because of numerous lawsuits that come in on properties,” Rivera, president and CEO of CBM, tells GlobeSt.com. “Retail properties are one of the bigger targets because you have more people visiting the property and it is easy to spot issues, like proper ramps, proper striping, proper signage.”
While Rivera advocates for ADA compliance, he says that a lot of the lawsuits they receive are disingenuous. “I would say that 90% of the lawsuits that we get are from drive-by attorneys,” he says. “They are typically looking for a quick settlement. Some of them send out lawsuits en masse. It scares a lot of our clients.”
The biggest step to reducing exposure to these lawsuits, according to Rivera, is a CASp inspection. “We are recommending and almost requiring that all of our owners get a CASp inspection where a certified CASp inspector will survey the property and identify non-compliance issues,” he says. “If the landlord starts or can prove that they are starting to do some of the work in the inspection, then clients are protected. If a CASp inspection is in place and the landlords are in the process of doing the work, damages are limited to $1,000. It is huge protection.”
The CASp inspection will also help owners keep up with the rapidly changing laws for ADA compliance. That can be especially difficult for landlords with properties in multiple cities or that live in another market. “We encourage all of our clients to be in compliance, but the laws change every single year and it is very difficult to keep up,” says Rivera.
The cost of a CASp inspection depends on the size of the property and the level of non-compliance; however, according to Rivera, it isn’t unreasonable, and more importantly, it is a fraction of the cost of a lawsuit or settlement. Overall, most clients see the benefits. “We try to educate our clients. This is a trend, and getting the inspection is for their protection,” he says. “If you are able to get ahead of it and mitigate those damages ahead of time, I think that most landlords will see that it is a good investment.”