California Lease Disclosure Requirements Regarding ADA Accessibility Now In Effect

by Perkins Coie

Beginning July 1, 2013, California commercial leases and rental agreements must include a disclosure regarding whether the property being leased has been inspected by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) and, if a CASp inspection has occurred, whether the property being leased has met all construction-related accessibility standards under current law.  A CASp refers to any person who has been certified pursuant to Section 4459.5 of the California Government Code.  This new lease disclosure requirement is part of a comprehensive reform package, California Senate Bill 1186, that was enacted to address concerns about the skyrocketing number of lawsuits in California alleging violations of construction-related accessibility requirements.  Many such lawsuits in California have been brought by plaintiffs or lawyers who have engaged in multiple filings under the Americans with Disabilities Act or counterpart California laws (together "ADA accessibility lawsuits"), with news reports indicating that some lawyers have filed hundreds of such actions throughout the state.


Nearly 40% of the nation’s ADA accessibility lawsuits are filed in California.  Proponents of SB 1186 view this legislation as a means to provide protection to owners and operators of public accommodations from abusive litigation, while creating incentives for commercial property owners to make ADA enhancements to improve accessibility.  The law provides that owners of properties that were inspected by a CASp inspector and met applicable standards for accessibility may stay ADA accessibility lawsuits and engage in an early evaluation conference.  A property owner may also be able to argue for greatly reduced minimum statutory damages (i.e., a reduction from $4,000 to $1,000 per offense) if the alleged violations are cured within 60 days of the owner being served with a complaint.

In addition to these accessibility inspection disclosure requirements, SB 1186 also introduces several other restrictions to rein in plaintiffs’ lawyers, including a ban on pre-litigation demand letters that request the payment of money for construction-related ADA violations and provisions intended to reduce the likelihood that a plaintiff can generate multiple claims by making numerous visits to the same business known to have barriers to access.  In addition, the law contains protections for businesses defined as "small business[es]," including a stay of litigation and the reduction of statutory damages (even without a CASp inspection) for violations that are corrected within 30 days of the small business being served with a complaint.

Lease Disclosure Requirement

California Civil Code Section 1938 (which codifies a portion of SB 1186) provides that "[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 it has, whether the property has or has not been determined to meet all applicable construction-related accessibility standards pursuant to Section 55.53."

It is important to note that Section 1938 does not require that a CASp inspection be completed on the property being leased; rather, it requires disclosure as to whether a CASp inspection has been completed and, if it has, whether the property being leased meets the accessibility standards.  Civil Code Section 55.53(f) confirms that a person’s election not to complete a CASp inspection "shall not be admissible to prove that person’s lack of intent to comply with the law."  This suggests that a statement in a lease that there has been no CASp inspection would not be admissible in an ADA accessibility lawsuit.

Practical Considerations

Property owners should consider performing a property-by-property analysis to determine whether to have a CASp inspection performed on their property.  The decision whether to get a CASp inspection involves balancing the condition of the property and the potential extent and cost of addressing any identified barriers to accessibility against the potential expense of litigation and the statutory benefits provided by the new law for properties undergoing a CASp inspection.  The timing of obtaining a CASp inspection also may depend in part on whether redevelopment or property upgrades are planned, which would allow accessibility improvements to be made in the normal course of such work.

There is little precedent under the new law to indicate whether the statutory benefits provided by having a pre-litigation CASp inspection will actually reduce litigation expense for owners and tenants.  One California court has ruled that the early evaluation and stay provisions are not applicable to actions under federal ADA laws. In addition, ADA accessibility lawsuits often identify specific accessibility barriers relating to parking restrictions, or similar exterior features, that can be corrected without incurring undue burden or expense.  If the new law does succeed in reducing filings by serial filers as intended, however, future claims may be more serious and more difficult to resolve efficiently.  Over time, property owners may be well-advised to work with a CASp inspector to preemptively identify and address accessibility violations on their property.

A property owner’s decision as to whether to have a CASp inspection completed on a property should also take into account the practical benefits of the litigation protections afforded under the new law if a CASp inspection is completed.  The litigation advantages of having a CASp inspection are limited:  the CASp inspection does not provide a complete defense to a violation of ADA accessibility requirements but rather gives the owner a stay of litigation and a settlement conference, along with limitations on statutory damages in some cases.  Such benefits may be of little practical consequence in ADA accessibility lawsuits brought by serial filers, which often settle quickly and without formal discovery.  However, if, as noted above, the new law results in only the more serious lawsuits being brought, the protections offered to a property owner who completes a CASp inspection may be useful.

Finally, because tenants are also subject to ADA accessibility lawsuits, tenants may require property owners to have a CASp inspection completed and accessibility violations corrected prior to executing a lease or rental agreement.  On the other hand, if no CASp inspection has been completed for the property being leased, a sophisticated tenant may be reluctant to insist on a CASp inspection because the landlord may require that the tenant bear at least a portion of the cost of making any improvements found to be necessary.  If the tenant will be completing the tenant improvements, landlords will be reluctant to undertake accessibility corrections that may be subsequently impacted by the tenant improvements.  Landlords and tenants may also more clearly define their respective ADA compliance obligations in leases.  Local real estate market conditions will play a role in these negotiations between landlords and tenants.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Perkins Coie | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Perkins Coie

Perkins Coie on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.