The Supreme Court of Victoria has today confirmed that owners corporations must make reasonable adjustments to buildings for tenants and visitors with a disability, or they risk being discriminatory.
The case, Owners Corporation v Anne Black, has significant implications for residential and commercial owners corporations across Victoria.
"Owners corporations are vitally important bodies that can help Victorians use, access and enjoy their homes and the world around them," said Commissioner Kristen Hilton.
"This case confirms their obligations towards people with a disability, including making sure they can access their home and public spaces."
Accessibility is a common issue for people with a disability. In this case, Ms Black has trouble accessing her own apartment because of heavy, manual doors that don't open easily with the scooter she uses. The owners corporations responsible for managing the apartment complex argued they did not provide a service, and that Ms Black must pay for any changes to the building herself.
The Commission joined the case, as a friend of the court, to provide expert advice on discrimination law.
The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 requires service providers to make "reasonable adjustments" to accommodate people with disabilities. What is reasonable depends on individual circumstances, such as the size of the owners corporation, the nature of adjustments required and their cost.
Today’s ruling makes clear that Victorian owners corporations are required to make reasonable adjustments for both tenants and visitors who have a disability. This may mean providing appropriate signage, lighting or accessible meeting rooms, depending on circumstances. It will affect owners corporations operating in commercial settings, like a shopping plaza or private offices, as well as in residential settings.
We can help
The Commission encourages people and owners corporations who have questions about their rights or obligations, or people who think they have a complaint about discrimination in this area, to contact us.
Mobile: 0447 526 642