No longer can condo corporations put off making their buildings more inclusive.
With the government’s goal of making Ontario barrier-free by 2025, many condo corporations are already implementing accommodation changes into current refurbishment projects.
Legislation – including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation and the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) – are ensuring that a condo resident’s accommodation requests are getting addressed by a condo corporation.
Wondering what this means for you? Here’s how to handle accommodation requests from your condo residents.
The Lowdown on What Accommodation Requests Mean for Your Building
All new condos or those completing major renovations must meet certain accessibility requirements. These former AODA accommodation requirements, which are now outlined in the Ontario Building Code, include barrier-free paths of travel, visual fire safety devices and access to the entire building. If your building is not new or completing a major renovation, there are still obligations under the AODA to follow.
Besides unit owners, family members and tenants can also submit accommodation requests to your condo management team.
To assist with accommodation requests, each building should have a clear human rights policy in place. The policy should state that accommodation requests made under the OHRC will be supported by building management up to the point of undue hardship.
Most – But Not All – Accommodation Requests Must Be Addressed by Condo Corporations
Although most accommodation requests must be addressed by condo management and boards, know that there are some exclusions.
Undue hardship is one. If a condo owner makes an accommodation request that would threaten the financial viability of the condo corporation, an exemption may be granted.
For example, if condo hallways are too narrow for a resident’s wheelchair, major construction would be necessary and possibly result in undue hardship on the condo corporation. As a result, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario would most likely consider this accommodation request to be exempted.
Another exclusion can occur when the accommodation would threaten the health and safety of other residents.
Complete Refurbishment Projects with Inclusiveness in Mind
Does your condo building already have a refurbishment project planned? Now’s the time to ensure it will be accessible to all residents. Combining them not only makes sense from a financial standpoint but resale value and the community environment will also be improved.
As property management, features to consider when implementing accessibility and inclusivity features to enhance your building include:
- Automated doors
- Voice floor annunciators
- Lower elevator buttons
- Braille-stamped plates
In the main lobby, consider installing a flat/sloped, accessible surface and removing any stairs.
Since accommodation requests are only predicted to increase in number and complexity in the future, the time is now to make your building more inclusive.
By Sarah McKenzie