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Introduced Version Senate Bill 453 History

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A BILL to amend and reenact 5-11A-3a of the code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and
Senate Bill No. 453

(By Senators Prezioso, Hunter, Sharpe, Unger, Foster, Minard and McCabe)

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[Introduced March 4, 2005; referred to the Committee

on Health and Human Resources; then to the Committee on the Judiciary.]

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A BILL to amend and reenact §5-11A-3 and §5-11A-3a of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend said code by adding thereto a new section, designated §5-11A-3b, all relating to defining "universal design"; providing immunity from civil damages to a worker, contractor, engineer or architect who, in good faith, provides services or materials, without remuneration, to build or install basic universal design features in accordance with applicable building codes and state and federal laws; and providing for a standard form informational list of basic universal design features to be provided to a future buyer of any proposed residential housing in the state.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §5-11A-3 and §5-11A-3a of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that said code be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §5-11A-3b, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 11A. WEST VIRGINIA FAIR HOUSING ACT.
§5-11A-3. Definitions.
As used in this article:

(a) "Commission" means the West Virginia Human Rights Commission; (b) "Dwelling" means any building, structure or portion thereof which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence or sleeping place by one or more persons or families, and any vacant land which is offered for sale or lease for the construction or location thereon of any such building, structure or portion thereof;
(c) "Family" includes a single individual;
(d) "Person" includes one or more individuals, corporations, partnerships, associations, labor organizations, legal representatives, mutual companies, joint-stock companies, trusts, unincorporated organizations, trustees, trustees in cases under Title 11 of the United States Code, receivers and fiduciaries;
(e) "To rent" includes to lease, to sublease, to let and otherwise to grant for a consideration the right to occupy premises not owned by the occupant;
(f) "Discriminatory housing practice" means an act that is unlawful under section five, six, seven or nineteen of this article;
(g) "Handicap" means, with respect to a person:
(1) A physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities;
(2) A record of having such an impairment; or
(3) Being regarded as having such an impairment, but such term does not include current, illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance, as defined in Section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act, Title 21, United States Code, Section 802;
(h) "Aggrieved person" includes any person who:
(1) Claims to have been injured by a discriminatory housing practice; or
(2) Believes that such person will be injured by a discriminatory housing practice that is about to occur;
(i) "Complainant" means the person, including the Commission, who files a complaint under section eleven of this article;
(j) "Familial status" means:
(1) One or more individuals who have not attained the age of eighteen years being domiciled with:
(A) A parent or another person having legal custody of such individual or individuals; or
(B) The designee of such parent or other person having such custody with the written permission of such parent or other person; or
(2) Any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of eighteen years;
(k) "Conciliation" means the attempted resolution of issues raised by a complaint or by the investigation of such complaint through informal negotiations involving the aggrieved person, the respondent and the Commission;
(l) "Conciliation agreement" means a written agreement setting forth the resolution of the issues in conciliation;
(m) "Respondent" means:
(1) The person or other entity accused in a complaint of an unfair housing practice; and
(2) Any other person or entity identified in the course of investigation and notified as required with respect to respondents so identified under subsection (a), section eleven of this article; and
(n) The term "rooming house" means a house or building where there are one or more bedrooms which the proprietor can spare for the purpose of giving lodgings to such persons as he chooses to receive; and
(o) The term "basic universal design" means the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

§5-11A-3a. Volunteer services or materials to build or install universal design features; workers, contractors, engineers, architects; immunity from civil liability.

Any person, including a worker, contractor, engineer or architect, who in good faith provides services or materials, without remuneration, to build or install handicap accessible basic universal design features as set forth in section five three-b of this article, may not be liable for any civil damages as the result of any act or omission in providing such services or materials: Provided, That the basic universal design accessible feature or features shall be built or constructed in accordance with applicable state and federal laws and applicable building codes.
§5-11A-3b. Informational list of basic universal design features; penalties.

(a) Ninety days after the Commission certifies and makes available to the general public the standard form informational list of basic universal design features pursuant to this section, a seller or builder of any proposed residential housing in the state shall provide to the buyer an informational list of basic universal design features that would make the home entrance, interior routes of travel, the kitchen and the bathroom(s) universally accessible. Basic universal design features are to include, but not be limited to, the following:
(1) At least one no-step entrance into the dwelling;
(2) All doors on the entry-level floor, including bathrooms, to have a minimum of thirty-six inches;
(3) At least one accessible bathroom on the entry-level floor with ample maneuvering space;
(4) Kitchen, general living space and one room capable of conversion into a bedroom, all with ample maneuvering space, on entry-level floor;
(5) Any other external or internal feature requested at a reasonable time by the buyer and agreed to by the seller.
(b) If a buyer is interested in a specific informational feature on the list established by subsection (a) of this section, the seller or builder upon request of the buyer shall indicate whether the feature is standard, limited, optional, or not available, and if available shall further indicate the cost of such feature to the buyer.
(c) The standard form informational list of basic universal design features shall be certified and made available for reproduction by the Commission, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, based upon mutual recommendation of the American Institute of Architects/West Virginia, the Home Builders Association of West Virginia, and the West Virginia Center for Excellence in Disabilities.
(d) Any willful violation hereunder by a builder or seller of residential housing shall be punishable by a civil penalty of that person's required attendance at a one day training course on accessible design and construction conducted by or under the supervision of the Commission.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide immunity from civil damages to a worker, contractor, engineer or architect, who in good faith provides services or materials, without remuneration, to build or install certain basic universal design accessibility features in accordance with applicable building codes and state and federal laws; and to establish a standard form informational list of basic universal design accessibility features to be provided to a future buyer of any proposed residential housing in the state.


Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

§§5-11A-3b is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

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