Obtaining a Certified Access Specialist Certificate (“CASp”) can help commercial real estate owners and tenants avoid the headache and expense relating to lawsuits alleging violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Recently enacted California Civil Code Section 1938 provides: “A commercial property owner or lessor shall state on every lease form or rental agreement executed on or after July 1, 2013, whether the property being leased or rented has undergone inspection by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp), and, if so, whether the property has or has not been determined to meet all applicable construction-related accessibility standards pursuant to Section 55.53”
The cost of this property audit typically ranges from $1,200-$2,500, and the cost of “readily achievable barrier removal,” as required by the ADA (e.g., improper parking lot signage, striping and ramps) might be thousands of dollars more. However, because the cost of settling or defending an ADA lawsuit can easily exceed these preventive costs, and the barriers will still have to be removed, it makes economic sense to proactively thwart such lawsuits. The most apparent “barriers” are usually the cheapest and easiest to fix, and even their removal can significantly reduce the exposure to drive-by (and Google Map) serial plaintiffs. After obtaining a CASp, the owner then has an extended period of time to address, budget and finance needed repairs.