> Is it true that a building built before the ADA
> laws is grandfathered from those laws?
Probably not applicable under ADA (which is applicable to 'public' places), but maybe under Fair Housing Act:
"... the ADA is typically not applicable to condominium or homeowner’s associations, as the ADA is only applicable to public accommodations, such as office buildings, restaurants, hotels, or stores. Independent Housing Services of San Francisco v.FillmoreCenter Assoc., 840 F.Supp. 1328 (N.D. Cal. 1993), (apartments and condominiums do not constitute “public accommodations” within the meaning of the ADA). Therefore, a condominium or homeowner’s association would have no responsibility to comply with the ADA unless its building contained professional or commercial space. If an association does contain professional or commercial spaces, then only those spaces would be required to comply with the ADA. The residential portions of those buildings would still be exempt from the ADA guidelines. Even though an association may not have the responsibility to comply with the federally mandated accessibility standards set forth in the ADA, there are several state and local accessibility guidelines which does require compliance from an Association."
"If the ADA is not applicable to the issue presented in a particular Community Association setting because the question involves an area of the complex that is purely private and therefore not a place of public accommodation, there are other laws that may apply and provide a basis for a handicapped co-owner to bring an action against an Association if, when requested by a disabled co-owner, it does not provide accommodations for them. To begin, the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA), 42 USC 3604, protects the handicapped from the discriminatory housing practices set forth in Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The FHAA provides that "It shall be unlawful... (2) To discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of a handicap..." 42 USC Section 3604(f)(2). Discrimination against the disabled includes "...(A) a refusal to permit, at the expense of the handicapped person, reasonable modifications of existing premises occupied or to be occupied by such person if such modifications may be necessary to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises...; (B) a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling;..." 42 USC Section 3604 (f)(3). Failure to provide a handicapped co-owner with a handicapped parking space or to allow for a modification to a unit or common element, if requested, could result in an action against an Association under the Fair Housing Amendments Act and is probably more likely than an action under the ADA since the FHAA is not limited to places of public accommodation.