ADA Compliance: New Regulations Affect Vacation Ownership Properties
By Soy Williams President, Soy Williams Consulting, Inc. | April 17, 2011
Twenty years have passed since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became the law of the land. Before then, the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act was passed in 1988. Yet many still question whether their timeshare, condo-hotel, or other similar vacation ownership properties are required to comply with one or both. Owners and operators become aware of a problem only after a guest with a disability complains, a lawsuit is filed, or the U.S. Department of Justice begins an investigation. Recent changes to the ADA regulations promise to reinvigorate the continuing debate on providing compliant lodging facilities.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has made significant changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations governing the lodging industry. Included in these changes are provisions that should further assist owners and operators in determining whether their timeshares, condo-hotels, fractional ownership and other "hybrid" vacation ownership properties should comply with requirements of the ADA and the Fair Housing Act (FHAct).
The ADA is a better-known term in industry circles, even though the FHAct became law before the ADA. Rooted in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the FHAct was first passed in 1968. The FHAct prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing based on color, religion, sex, or national origin. 1988 amendments to the FHAct expanded the coverage to include individuals with disabilities and families with children. The same amendments also established design and construction requirements for certain new multifamily dwellings for first occupancy after March 13, 1991.
The Americans with Disabilities Act celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Issues surrounding timeshares and other hybrid lodging facilities involving a myriad of ownership arrangements have owners and operators still questioning whether or not they are subject to the ADA, the FHAct, or both.
Hopefully by now there is little doubt that the ADA applies to "places of lodging" which include inns, hotels, motels and similar places that are used for short-term stays. Timeshares and other hybrids, however, deserve another look.
Is a timeshare required to comply with the ADA?