Disability Act Under New Jersey Law

How the Americans with Disabilities Act Impacts NJ Landlords

Your leasing office/sales office is subject to compliance with the Americans Disabilities Act.

The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination. . . on the basis of disability and the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation.  42 U.S.C.A. ‘12182(a).

The question in these cases is whether or not your facilities are a “place of public accommodation.”

While the Courts interpreting this statute have uniformly held that residential apartments, condominiums, and mobile homes, are not places of public accommodation, and therefore do not have to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (even though they do have to comply with the Federal Fair Housing Act), leasing offices and sales offices are considered public accommodations within the meaning of this law.

The definition of “public accommodation” is such that its operations effect commerce and it falls within at least one of twelve descriptive categories.  While none of the twelve descriptive categories include a specific reference to a leasing or sales office, the Courts have accepted the concept that a leasing office or sales office is sufficiently close enough to an “in hotel, motel or other place of lodging” (all categories specifically referred to in the legislation), that it is consistent with Congress’ legislative intent to extend coverage of the Act to sales or leasing offices.

This will also apply to any residential unit which is used as a sales or leasing office.  What is also significant in this analysis is that the technical assistance publication issued by the Justice Department in the “Title III Technical Assistance Manual” specifically indicates that “a private residential apartment complex contains a rental office.  The rental office is a place of public accommodation.”  This area of the law is complex and should be navigated with experienced counsel.

By Christopher J. Hanlon, Esq., a NJ Landlord Attorney

Should you have the need for legal counsel in this area, please contact me at chanlon@hnlawfirm.com or call toll-free (855) 376-5291.