As of March 15, the self-storage industry will be required to follow the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations passed in 2010, unless a property already meets the original ADA standards written in 1991. Any renovations or development of new facilities must be designed to meet the new regulations.
Specifically stated for self-storage, 5 percent of the first 200 units must to be wheelchair accessible. Two percent of the remaining units must also be wheelchair accessible. These accessible units should be dispersed among the different types of units the facility provides. However, owners are not required to add additional accessible units to have one in each type. If the space is needed for another renter, it doesn’t have to be held for a disabled customer. ADA regulations do not clarify on the use of roll-up doors.
Other regulations that will affect self-storage facilities include enlarged turning spaces for wheelchairs in restrooms, changes in reach ranges, and space requirements for handicapped employee work spaces. The new regulations also provide more protection to disabled persons with service animals.
"While the March date has significance, it doesn't change the landscape that much," said Carlos Kaslow, general counsel for the Self-Storage Association. "From an operator's standpoint, you want to be in compliance. A lot of ADA is easy for self-storage to comply with just because of the nature of the business. Most storage facilities already have wide hallways because people are navigating stuff down hallways. We have an advantage over many other commercial-building types."
ADA regulations are part of the U.S.'s civil right laws. Not following the regulations could lead to private lawsuits against building owners. "Any person denied access because of their disability can bring a lawsuit under Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Kaslow said.