Myths About ADA Compliance for Property Management Websites
As the owner of a property management company, you know that compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is critical. Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about ADA compliance and property management website accessibility. But, what does that really mean?
We’re seeing an increase in lawsuits filed against property management companies and real estate agents, and while the concept of website accessibility is widely known, there’s still a lot that can be misunderstood, especially when it comes to property management websites.
That’s why we’re here today: to talk about some of the common myths around this subject.
Myth 1: Property Management Companies are Sued When Their Sites aren’t ADA Compliant
This statement doesn’t really give you the full picture.
At Fourandhalf, we’ve seen samples of these lawsuits, and they reference the Fair Housing Act far more frequently than they mention the ADA. As a property manager or a real estate agent, your company provides access to housing via your websites. So, if your website isn’t accessible to someone with a disability, it could be viewed as discrimination.
The ADA doesn’t have specific rules surrounding websites. There’s no formula for you to follow, but those who are bringing lawsuits and targeting housing-related websites because fair housing lawsuits are easy to file, and they’re out there looking for potential violations.
Myth 2: You Can Make Your Website 100 Percent ADA Compliant
This myth is FALSE.
Saying that your website is “100 percent compliant” gives the impression that you’re safe from any potential lawsuits. But, that’s a dangerous misconception because the accessibility guidelines are always changing. The guidelines in place right now are not law – they’re guidelines. So, you can never feel like you’re 100 percent compliant with any part of the ADA guidelines. You don’t know when they’ll be changed.
There’s also a problem with the term “ADA Compliance.” This is misleading because when it comes to your website, the complaints and lawsuits are likely to be fair housing related, not ADA related. To reduce any confusion, the better term is “Website Accessibility.” That’s really what this boils down to.
Myth 3: The Company I Hired to Host My Website is Responsible for Website Accessibility
This myth is also FALSE.
Start by checking your agreements. Website accessibility is a moving target. It’s similar to SEO; this isn’t a fix it and forget it one-time adjustment. It’s an ongoing process. You need continuous monitoring and analysis to keep up with all the changes to best practices.
At Fourandhalf, we recently completed a review of a number of these website accessibility lawsuits, and our team is updating our current accessibility standards accordingly.
If you’re one of our website clients with a continuous improvement agreement with us, you can expect our accessibility improvements in your upcoming review cycles.
Myth 4: My High Accessibility Score with Online Checker Tools like Wave Means I’m Safe
That’s another FALSE.
Like we have said, accessibility is a fluid and moving concept, and getting a high score doesn’t make you immune to potential lawsuits. We have seen websites with high scores that are still being sued. A good score on Wave doesn’t guarantee you’re safe.
Myth 5: If You Get Sued and Settle, You Won’t Get Sued Again
Sadly, this isn’t entirely true. Each jurisdiction is different, and highly dependent on the judge within the jurisdiction. But it is possible to get sued again. Settling one lawsuit does not make you immune to future lawsuits.
Accessibility for property management websites is an important topic. It is something everybody needs to be educated on, and although no one wants to be sued, avoiding lawsuits should not be the end goal.
The end goal should ultimately be accessibility.
We know this issue is complicated. On our next Property Management Show podcast, we’re interviewing a lawyer with expertise on website accessibility. If you didn’t get this blog through our newsletter, make sure you subscribe so you won’t miss that important episode.
If you have any questions about ADA compliance and property management websites, or anything related to your property management marketing, please contact us at Fourandhalf.
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