By: Kristina Launey

As we reported last year, in September 2012, the Governor signed into law legislation reforming some of California’s disability access statutes.  Most of those reforms went into effect as of the date the Governor signed the bill, but one provision becomes effective today, July 1, 2013. 

California Civil Code Section 1938 requires, among other things, commercial property owners or lessors to state on every lease form or rental agreement executed on or after TODAY – July 1, 2013 – whether the property being leased or rented has undergone inspection by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp), and, if so, whether the property has or has not been determined to meet all applicable construction-related accessibility standards. 

Are your lease forms and rental agreements ready?

 If you have property in San  Francisco, you likely already know – but worth a topical reminder – of San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 38, which requires landlords to make certain disclosures and provide certain notices regarding accessibility on commercial properties.  Chapter 38 was enacted to ensure that: (1) public restrooms and ground floor entrances to and exits from real property leased to Small Business Tenants comply with applicable disability access requirements and that Commercial Landlords disclose any noncompliance with such requirements before a Small Business Tenant enters into or renews a lease for the property; (2) Commercial Landlords and Small Business Tenants receive priority permit processing for work consisting primarily of disability access improvements; and (3) every new and amended commercial lease between a Commercial Landlord and a Small Business Tenant for premises that will be used as a public accommodation clearly and expressly addresses the respective obligations of the parties for making and paying for disability access improvements.  As such, like the new state law, the Ordinance requires revisions to leases and lease amendments, but only for Smaller Business Tenants (occupying space of 7500 square feet or less).  The lease must also require the tenant and the landlord to use reasonable efforts to notify each other if they make alterations to the leased property that might impact accessibility under federal and state disability access laws.  The new ordinance was effective January 1, 2013 with respect to leases (and amendments) for spaces 5,001-7,500 square feet and on June 1, 2013 with respect to leases (and amendments) for spaces of less than 5,000 square feet.