Accessibility features and renovations in condos

Accessibility has been a significant issue concerning residential communities for several years. Majority of condominiums being developed in the era when legislative or societal pressures were negligible, the accessibility mechanism was a non- conforming component. Accessibility has now been incorporated as an essential feature for upcoming projects, and almost all new condos such as Westport condos conform to these crucial components. Find out more about the accessibility laws for condos and enlighten yourself with the essentiality of having the system in place.

However, the new norms concerning the incorporation of accessibility to the condo communities have landed the existing condominium corporations under extreme pressure. Most of them were unclear about the implementation of the new OBC regulations in their buildings and were under the impression that they might have to undergo renovation to install accessibility features. The legislations must have anticipated the condominium corporations’ dilemma, and have stated in another section of ruling that law does not have retrospective effect. Hence, older buildings can exist without the suggested amenities until the residents demand for installation.

Accessibility features in real estate scenarios

Accessibility issues for the existing condominiums have been a challenging issue for the condo corporations for a long time. Apart from the financial and logistical constraints that are holding back corporations to undertake renovations, the struggle with laws and rights are worsening the dilemma. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act is the previously mentioned human right act that had forced the accessibility amendments in the Ontario Building Code (OBC). The law says that all the living areas have to be equipped with a barrier-free path of travel for the easy accessibility of the residents. Lifts, ramps, elevators, stairlifts and all the equipment aiding easy accessibility include in the barrier-free travel path definition. The accessibility feature compliance has become an issue for the residential units that do not have aforesaid accessibility features and would have to undergo extensive renovations to incorporate these.

However, OBCs section 3.8 states that the law does not have a retrospective effect, which means that the buildings do not necessarily require new accessibility features. The section 11.3.3.2 loosely clarifies that the fitting is statutorily necessary only if the older condo is going in for extensive renovation that involves removing walls, ceilings or floors and replacing that with heavy-duty stuff. OBC defines basic renovation as the construction carried out to maintain an existing functionality with the in house materials. It is also interesting to note that this basic renovation need not comply with the OBC either. To the much relief of condominium corporations, laws do not require them to renovate the new feature compulsorily.

How renovating the condos with accessibility features can be advantageous?

OBC laws have been devised in favour of disabled residents who have accessibility issues, and the condo corporation has the freedom to make selected renovations without the approval of unit owners. As far as the recent condos are concerned, with a growing number of residents opting for the condominium living in their retired life, the need for accessibility features is becoming an essential component for a smooth and inclusive community. The renovations to incorporate these features can not only benefit the existing residents but also can be a helpful feature for the future residents also.

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