Construction Today 2018 - Volume 16, Issue 3 - 16

contractors should
ยป Residential
be aware of possible violations
of federal laws.

More housing could equal more legal headaches. BY SCOTT FRADIN


ollowing a slowdown last year,
multifamily deliveries are expected
to hit a peak in 2018. An estimated
360,000 new units are slated for
delivery over the next 12 months, which is a
20 percent increase over 2017, according to
a new Yardi Matrix report.
Hidden in this good news is a very real
but little-known or appreciated risk that
could spell financial disaster for developers, architects and contractors: everyone
involved in the construction could be
liable for a violation of the Federal Fair
Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA)
and the Americans with Disabilities Act of
1990 (ADA).
But what about that indemnification
provision in your contract meant to protect
you from this exact claim? It may be useless.



A Piece of the Action

Who is Actually Responsible?

With steady growth in multifamily housing, those involved in the development
process can expect a parallel increase in
discrimination lawsuits for violations of the
accessibility guidelines established by the
FHAA and the ADA, and brought by the U.S.
Department of Justice, state agencies (e.g., a
state's department of human rights), private
individuals and public interest groups.
These lawsuits are based on violations
that are found by "testers" who visit new residential projects looking for any accessibility
violations. Such violations range from failure
to provide accessible routes to lack of usable
kitchens and bathrooms. These suits not
only seek to correct the violations (a laudable
goal) but also request the award of attorneys'
fees and costs (including expert fees).

Few are aware of the FHAA and its application to certain private, multifamily projects.
The FHAA establishes the following accessibility requirements for multifamily housing
with four or more dwelling units:
* Public and common areas must be
accessible by handicapped persons.
* All doors must be wide enough for a
wheelchair to pass through.
* The dwelling units must contain
the following features of adaptive
design: accessible routes; switches,
outlets and controls at accessible
heights; reinforced walls in bathrooms to allow installation of grab
bars; and usable kitchens and bathrooms for wheelchairs.
Typically, the developer enters into

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Construction Today 2018 - Volume 16, Issue 3