Thursday, January 24, 2013

UPDATE: Disability Access (ADA) Improvements for Small Businesses and Landlord Obligations

BOMA San Francisco Members:

UPDATE - January 24, 2013

Effective January 1, 2013, commercial property landlords have the obligation of making disability access improvements and providing required notifications when entering into or amending a lease of a property up to 5,000 square feet of space. Effective June 1, 2013, the requirement is expanded to properties up to 7,500 square feet of space.

The landlord can fulfill the access improvement obligation by:
  • Making existing public restroom, ground floor entrances and ground floor exits accessible by removing all architectural barriers to disability access, to the extent the improvements are required by and 'readily achievable' within the meaning of any applicable provisions of Title 28, Section 36.304 and 36.305, of the Code of Federal Regulations; 
  • OR providing a written notice to any prospective tenant that the property may not meet all applicable construction-related accessible standards. 
In either case, before entering into or amending a commercial lease, the landlord is also required to provide a written Disability Access Obligations Notice, which has established language the landlord must use. In addition, the landlord must provide an Accessible Information Notice obtained through the Office of Small Business.

Click here for full details of the law.


At the head of the table (L to R): Regina Dick-Endrizzi and David Chiu 

UPDATE - February 15, 2012

Supervisor David Chiu agreed to meet with BOMA San Francisco leaders and members of the San Francisco Business Community recently to discuss his Disability Access Improvements for Small Businesses and Landlord Obligations legislation.  Also attending to provide her perspective was Regina Dick-Endrizzi, Executive Director of the San Francisco Office of Small Business.

It was a fruitful discussion and one that helped all stakeholders understand the intent of the legislation and possible amendments that would make it more effective.

BOMA San Francisco members suggested that the legislation be amended to, at a minimum and among other issues discussed, reflect the following:
  • Education 
    • Commercial property owners would provide an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) disclosure to tenants/potential tenants to help educate them on the requirements of the ADA.
  • Compliance 
    • Allow a commercial property owner/tenant the time to correct ground floor entrance(s) and exit(s) to ADA specific requirements in a tenant space within a reasonable time frame.  That is, set a due date for absolute compliance sometime in the future (e.g., 5-10 years) with a requirement to update the ground floor entrance(s) and exit(s) before the due date if new tenant occupies the space.
  • Lease Negotiation Process
    • Commercial property owners need to have the ability to negotiate the costs associated with any tenant improvement with the tenant.  This includes any costs associated with ADA compliance for ground floor tenant space entrance(s) and exit(s).
More information to follow in a future blog post - stay tuned!


Original Post - January 20, 2012

Please take a moment to review an ordinance recently submitted by Supervisor David Chiu - Disability Access Improvements for Small Businesses and Landlord Obligations.  BOMA San Francisco Codes and Regulations Committee members and Advocacy team have been meeting with the Supervisor and his staff to understand its potential impact on the aggregate commercial real estate industry.  We'd like to thank Supervisor Chiu for his early outreach to BOMA San Francisco to enlist our feedback.

The Disability Access legislation would mandate commercial property owners make their first floor entrances handicap accessible before they could lease/release their, usually, first-floor retail spaces to tenants. It places the burden of non-compliant entrances squarely on the landlord. If signed into law, this ordinance will have a particularly large impact on small commercial property owners in San Francisco.

This is where your assistance is needed.  Please review the ordinance by clicking here and the legislative digest, here.  Please send your feedback to Ken Cleaveland at and John Bozeman at

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