Any individual or business entity entering into a commercial lease should make sure the lease specifically addresses compliance issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Overlooking this area in a business lease can bring about costly and tedious litigation for owners, landlords, and property managers.

ADA Issues in Commercial Leases

Under the ADA, anyone who owns, leases, or operates a “place of public accommodation” must ensure the property complies with ADA regulations. In a commercial lease, the first question is thus: Is the landlord or the tenant responsible for compliance?

In any commercial lease, the terms should clearly state which party is responsible for ensuring ADA compliance. Generally, terms are written to make landlords responsible for compliance with the overall building, such as ensuring the parking lot has handicap-accessible parking spaces.

By contrast, the terms usually dictate the tenant is responsible for making sure the portions of the building under its direct care and control are ADA compliant. This may include the entryway to the tenant’s commercial space or the arrangement of furniture within the tenant’s unit.

Both Tenants and Landlords Can Face ADA Lawsuits

The ADA gives plaintiffs standing to sue both landlords and tenants. Because landlords typically have more resources than a tenant, however, it is quite likely the landlord the plaintiff will focus on – although it is not unusual for an ADA lawsuit to include all available parties. Even defending a lawsuit through the summary judgment stage of a case can be costly for a commercial tenant, which is why it is best to avoid these types of suits through careful lease agreement drafting.

Additionally, many ADA lawsuits focus on areas typically maintained by landlords, such as parking lots, stairwells, sidewalks, and common bathrooms. To protect themselves, landlords should consider using an ADA compliance expert to evaluate their property and make recommendations for bringing buildings and properties in line with ADA guidelines.

Mississippi Commercial and Residential Real Estate Lawyers

The business and real estate lawyers at Rushing & Guice, P.L.L.C. handle complex legal issues in a wide variety of real estate transactions. Call us today at (228) 374-2313 to discuss your case.

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