Question about barrier removal. Do I have to pay or does the landlord have to pay?

I am being sued by a disabled person because I have a step outside of my restaurant. He cannot go over this step with his wheelchair.

I have leased this building for about 5 years, but the owner of the property has been operating it for a very long time (some time prior to the 1990 American's with Disabilities act).

The guy suing me is running a scam where he is suing dozens of businesses who have a barrier such as a step infront of their restaurants.

Under the law, the building is considered a joint operation between myself who runs the retaurant and leases the property, and the owner of the property. It says it is between us to decide who pays for the barrier removal and this guy's monetary damages he is seeking (no less than $4,000) for mental distress and "embarrasement". It was not readily achievable for me to put the ramp up when he first requested it, but I have since installed the ramp. While the ramp was not yet installed, I took his order at the door and brought his food to him outside of my restaurant. This is deemed acceptible under the ADA regulations as an "alternative" means of providing him service while the barrier removal was "delayed" due to financial reasons.

My question: The property owner is saying I, the one leasing the building for my restaurant, am the one who should incur the full cost of the barrier removal and the monetary damages this man is seeking. The law says that it is between the two of us to decide who pays. Since he owns 50 properties, isn't it more "readilly achievable" for him to pay for at least some of this than I, who make only a marginal income from my business?

How do I go about getting him to pay half or more of the cost? Do I have to take him to small claims court?

I would like to do this without a lawyer, but should I retain an attorney just in case, even though it will bring additional cost to this whole matter?

Edit: I make a small amount each year (roughly $50k), and only have 5 employees, all of which are my family members.

Update:

Aliciali: This is not a commercial or industrial property. It is not an office space, it's a building tailored around a restaurant. He is aware what type of business is operating on his property. He has been out of compliance for nearly 20 years now and this is the first time someone has sued.

The problem is that the law states that we both have an equal stake in making this happen because it is considered a joint operation. The law, however, leaves it between us to figure out who pays what. The problem is that he wants me to pay it all.

It does not require any permanent alteration to the property, it's just a cheap ramp that we can buy for $250 and bring out there whenever necessary (it is portable).

The quesiton is, who pays the thousands for this guys "mental distress" claim for monetary damages. Fixing the accessability problem is too easy, it's deciding who pays this guy whos entire psyche was crushed, CRUSHED, because he could not get over the step.

Update 2:

@ Kemperk:

That is what we are doing, the problem is that the guy is looking for money because his feelings are hurt. They want no less than $4,000 and the law says they can claim $1,000 for every day that it hasn't been fixed since the first time he tried to enter the restaurant. This was 120 days ago, so $1,000x120 in damages for not having the temporary ramp available.

3 Answers

Relevance
  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    put down a temp ramp, wood or metal. Cost you $50.

    remove it when the client leaves and store it.

    Source(s): RE broker
  • 1 decade ago

    Check with your lawyer, but I would say it is you, the business owner. Why should the owner of the building make it accessible to people in wheel chairs....the person renting the space could just as easily be using it for private work space and not even have the door unlocked to the public, there by making it unnecisary for a ramp. That means it is the the business owners responsability based on weather what they are using the premises for is something that requires customers to enter.

    I just read the above posters answer and I would have to agree with that too. This is definately a case for asking a lawyer and your insurance company.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    You as a tenant do not have the legal right to alter the building. Call your insurance company and have them fight for you. The owner of the building is the only one permitted to make alterations to his property.

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