Differences between ADA & FHA
The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act are both federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities but they have different accessible design and construction requirements.
Although the ADA and FHA overlap in limited circumstances, FHA regulations primarily apply to multifamily residential projects and ADA regulations primarily apply to non-residential projects.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in areas of public life, including employment, education, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government programs and services.
- Title II of the ADA addresses nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in state and local government services.
- Title III of the ADA addresses nondiscrimination on the basis of disability by businesses open to the public and public accommodations.
Newly constructed buildings and alterations to existing buildings must comply with 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Also, the ADA addresses removing barriers in the built environment to ensure equal access to programs and services.
The U.S. Department of Justice enforces compliance. The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990.
Fair Housing Act (FHA)
The FHA prohibits discrimination against individuals when they are renting, purchasing, or financing a home.
The FHA accessible design and construction requirements apply to ‘covered multifamily dwellings’ designed and constructed ‘for first occupancy’ after March 13, 1991. Covered multifamily dwellings include:
- All dwelling units in buildings containing four or more dwelling units if the buildings have one or more elevators AND
- All ground floor units in other buildings containing four or more units, without an elevator.
Also, the FHA accessible design and construction requirements apply to common use areas used by residents.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Development and the U.S. Department of Justice enforces compliance. The original Act of 1968 was amended in 1988 to include protection of individuals with disabilities.