Must the condo provide wheelchair access?


DG writes:

Dear Paul: When we moved into our condominium in 2010 the handicapped access was available by putting in your code on the annunciator board and then pushing the handicapped button.   Then we had a change in our entry system and we went from a coded number to keys.   From that time on the handicap buttons were disabled.   I have tried to get the board to reactivate the handicapped system they have refused to do so. They claim it is not necessary and allows unwanted persons access to our buildings.  We have had a couple of break-ins where things were stolen from our buildings. They are using this excuse for not having the handicap buttons reactivated. My question is are they allowed to not have handicap access to our three buildings.  In my research, handicapped access is mandatory in public buildings.

Paul replies:

Dear DG: I am sorry to hear of this situation. People who have a handicap have enough to cope with than to have difficulty accessing their home. To clarify, I do not think that a condominium is considered a “public building.” Usually, a public building is a place like a city hall or a hospital. A condo would be considered private accommodation. I will assume that you are in a wheelchair and that using a key to unlock the door creates a problem because you have to reach to unlock the door, open the door, wheel yourself through the door while attempting to keep the door open. This would be a challenging task. While I am not a lawyer, my understanding is that the Accessibility Act does require barrier-free access to buildings providing accommodations. I suspect, that your condo would fall under this category. The Human Rights Code is also an area worth exploring. If you requested an accommodation in writing from the board of directors, and it was denied, you could file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. A quick check on the internet revealed that there are key activated switches that could solve both the access and security issues together. The keypad to activate the automatic door opener could be located far enough from the door to allow easy entry with a wheelchair. Since you mentioned there were three buildings, I assume that you only live in one of the buildings. Whether or not you can request that all three buildings provide you with access will have to be assessed by the authorities. Cheers.

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