Landlord's Duty to Maintain and Provide Access to Communal Spaces

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A landlord may provide communal facilities, like a yard, rooftop, garden, gym, lobby, or pool. Generally, a landlord retains control over these facilities and must keep them in reasonably safe condition. A landlord may be liable for injuries suffered because of the item's disrepair and defects if they knew about the problem or reasonably should have known about the problem. Landlords cannot discriminate against who has access to these facilities, based on certain protected classes of people.

Cleaning

Landlords are responsible for cleaning areas shared by multiple apartment units. These common areas don’t have to be pristine or beautiful, but they should be free of garbage. They should also be mopped and swept periodically, where applicable.

Equal Access

Landlords are allowed to set hours of use, limits on the use, and safety restrictions so long as these limits do not violate the Fair Housing Act and similar state laws. As a best practice, landlords should apply rules to every individual equally and avoid banning individuals or groups from using communal areas. The Fair Housing Act prevents landlords from discriminating against race, color, national origin, religion, sex, mental or physical disability and the presence of children. For example, landlords cannot prevent children from accessing a gym or laundry area. If a disabled person wishes to use a facility, the landlord must provide a reasonable accommodation where requested. Some states extend the Fair Housing Act to other groups of individuals. For example, many states prohibit landlords from discriminating based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. Some states even prohibit discrimination based on any physical appearance.

Safety

Landlords are responsible for ensuring that communal facilities are safe for use and should shut them down immediately if they are not. If a tenant is injured while using a communal area or facility and the landlord knew about a dangerous condition and failed to take a reasonable safety measure (e.g., fixing the condition or shutting down access), then the landlord is responsible for any foreseeable injuries to the tenant. In addition, some states and local governments may require minimum safety precautions. For example, some jurisdictions may require pool safety features like anti-suction protections for wading pools in apartment complexes and other residential settings.

Disability Accommodation

If the pool, gym, rooftop, or other communal facility is accessible to the public, then it must follow the detailed guidelines of the American Disability Act (ADA) for accessible design. If it’s not open to the public, then the landlord must provide reasonable accommodations to those with mental or physical disabilities under the Fair Housing Act.

Closing

Landlords are typically not required to keep communal facilities open and can generally close shut them down at any time. Most state laws don’t require landlords to provide any “amenities” (including communal spaces) unless it’s promised in the lease. More expensive luxury apartments may include such provisions. Typically, landlords take the extra step of specifying in rental agreements that the tenant's use of these facilities is not a right and the landlord can revoke access at any time. However, some state or local laws may define the rented premises to include communal areas of the property. If so, the landlord must continue providing these facilities, or else a tenant would likely be entitled to a reduction in rent.

Cleaning


Landlords are responsible for cleaning areas shared by multiple apartment units. These common areas don’t have to be pristine or beautiful, but they should be free of garbage. They should also be mopped and swept periodically, where applicable.

Equal Access


Landlords are allowed to set hours of use, limits on the use, and safety restrictions so long as these limits do not violate the Fair Housing Act and similar state laws. As a best practice, landlords should apply rules to every individual equally and avoid banning individuals or groups from using communal areas.

The Fair Housing Act prevents landlords from discriminating against race, color, national origin, religion, sex, mental or physical disability and the presence of children. For example, landlords cannot prevent children from accessing a gym or laundry area. If a disabled person wishes to use a facility, the landlord must provide a reasonable accommodation where requested.

Some states extend the Fair Housing Act to other groups of individuals. For example, many states prohibit landlords from discriminating based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. Some states even prohibit discrimination based on any physical appearance.

Safety


Landlords are responsible for ensuring that communal facilities are safe for use and should shut them down immediately if they are not. If a tenant is injured while using a communal area or facility and the landlord knew about a dangerous condition and failed to take a reasonable safety measure (e.g., fixing the condition or shutting down access), then the landlord is responsible for any foreseeable injuries to the tenant.

In addition, some states and local governments may require minimum safety precautions. For example, some jurisdictions may require pool safety features like anti-suction protections for wading pools in apartment complexes and other residential settings.

Disability Accommodation


If the pool, gym, rooftop, or other communal facility is accessible to the public, then it must follow the detailed guidelines of the American Disability Act (ADA) for accessible design. If it’s not open to the public, then the landlord must provide reasonable accommodations to those with mental or physical disabilities under the Fair Housing Act.

Closing


Landlords are typically not required to keep communal facilities open and can generally close shut them down at any time. Most state laws don’t require landlords to provide any “amenities” (including communal spaces) unless it’s promised in the lease. More expensive luxury apartments may include such provisions. Typically, landlords take the extra step of specifying in rental agreements that the tenant's use of these facilities is not a right and the landlord can revoke access at any time. However, some state or local laws may define the rented premises to include communal areas of the property. If so, the landlord must continue providing these facilities, or else a tenant would likely be entitled to a reduction in rent.

Last Update : July 22, 2018 UTC

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