There’s a case awaiting a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that could increase the risk for individual HOA board members and property managers. It involves passive and overt discrimination against certain protected classes. Overt discrimination needs no explanation. But passive or indirect discrimination, which often happens when no one intentionally means to discriminate, can lead to huge lawsuits and massive judgments against individual board members and homeowners. More and more protected classes have been filing lawsuits based on easier-to-prove passive discrimination.
If the Supreme Court declines to narrow the scope of federal discrimination laws then Katy bar the doors. Passive discrimination happens all the time in Homeowners Associations and it can only encourage more plaintiffs to make such claims. Insurance companies usually won’t pay for legal costs or judgments under federal or state discrimination laws.
When they begin to realize their personal liability HOA board members all over the country might start fleeing like rats from the Titanic. And many neighborhoods may decide to dissolve their HOAs forever.
The article linked below explains it far more intelligently than I did.
Here’s more information to consider, from Elizabeth Warren, writing to the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/elizabeth-warren-supreme-court-housing-decision-could-put-our-financial-well-being-at-risk/2015/01/21/8b57a94c-a122-11e4-9f89-561284a573f8_story.html
“…experienced watchers of the Supreme Court believe it is ready to defy Congress and ignore the country’s appellate courts by eliminating the disparate-impact test altogether. Such a ruling would inevitably result in far more segregated communities.”
“A group of researchers from Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley studied cities across the United States to assess what factors helped those in the lowest income bracket reach the highest income bracket later in life. They concluded that a lower level of housing segregation was one of only five factors consistently associated with upward mobility.”
“Undercutting our fair housing laws also would increase the risk of another financial crisis. In the wake of the 2008 economic collapse, the Justice Department found that several big banks and other mortgage lenders had violated the Fair Housing Act’s disparate-impact standard by steering borrowers of color into more expensive mortgages than white borrowers with similar financial profiles. While lenders profited in the short term, these families were unable to keep up with their payments when housing prices fell, contributing to the chain reaction throughout the financial system. As the crisis demonstrated, we need stronger fair housing laws, not weaker ones that allow lenders to return to the risky — but lucrative — practices that set the stage for the last crash.
But the big financial institutions want access to those profits — no matter the risks. That’s why the American Financial Services Association, the American Insurance Association and the American Bankers Association are all pressing the court to eliminate disparate-impact claims. The giant corporations that these groups serve are hoping that limiting a basic civil rights law will give them new ways to tilt the playing field even more steeply against hardworking families.”