Note: Before you dive in, MyVR has authored an updated blog post on the impact of ADA and FHA on the vacation rental industry.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in 1990, federally mandates that public buildings and workplaces must be accessible to persons with disabilities. It applies to hotels, resorts, campgrounds and public parks — but does it apply to vacation rentals?

The short answer is usually “No”, but there are a few exceptions.

Your property should be ADA compliant if…

Vacation rentals are generally considered private property and therefore exempt from regulations required of commercial properties. However, here are a few exceptions or circumstances you should be aware of:

  • It has common areas: The ADA does apply to common areas that might be shared by your vacation rental property, such as rental offices, parking lots and public restrooms. Any area that isn’t for the exclusive use of your tenants or their guests is a public area and therefore requires compliance.
  • It’s impacted by local regulations: Stay on top of local acts and ordinances that apply to your vacation rental. In some instances, local governments and neighborhood associations have worked to re-classify vacation rentals for “commercial” or “limited commercial” use.  With such an unlikely (if not unprecedented) re-classification, you would then be obligated to meet ADA standards.
  • Your marketing says you are: If you advertise anything as handicapped accessible, it must meet ADA standards. In such a case, you should find out precisely what is necessary for compliance (i.e. slope of a ramp to your front door or the height and placement of grip bars in the bathroom).

While it may seem daunting, ADA compliance sometimes requires just a slight change or addition. Read through the regulations to see what applies to your rental.

Two things to know if you need to meet ADA standards

If you think your circumstance might require ADA accommodation, here are two important things to keep in mind:

1) There is no “grandfather clause” exempting older facilities

If the property in question was constructed prior to 1990, the owner is still mandated to make changes that are “readily achievable.” This means that a demonstrable effort to comply must be evident, though not to the extent that it is hugely impracticable or creates a financial hardship.

2) New properties are not exempt

New construction or modifications made after 1990 must be fully compliant.

The information above is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. If you need legal advice, you should consult a licensed attorney in your area.