guest blog by Dave Russell
How to ‘legally’ discriminate against children in HOAs…… It’s pretty simple, and it only takes one word!
A Fair Housing case was just settled in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Six families in the Greenbrier Village Homeowners Association won a settlement agreement in a federal lawsuit. The feds say the HOA was violating the law when it banned children from playing in the grass.
The Greenbrier Village Homeowners’ Association and Gassen Company had to establish new nondiscrimination policies, pay a $10,000 fine to the federal government and $100,000 to six families for their illegal discrimination
guest blog by Dave Russell
Each day I’m alerted to scores of cases where folks living in HOAs are denied reasonable accommodations for their disabilities. Some of these HOA denials are blatant violations of the Fair Housing Act, while some are not. I’m going to compare two recent cases that have grabbed the attention of the media. While both sound like truly legitimate cases, one homeowner did it right, and the other homeowner technically did it wrong.
Build it and they will come. The HOA that is!
guest blog by Dave Russell (community association manager)
Last week Minnetonka residents of a condo complex won a massive settlement agreement in a federal lawsuit contending that a ban on playing in the grass illegally discriminated against families with children.The settlement agreement, announced last Friday, by U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, means that the Greenbrier Village Homeowners’ Association Inc. and Gassen Company Inc. must establish a new nondiscrimination policy and pay a $10,000 penalty to the federal government and $100,000 to six families. We all know well who is going to foot the bill for this one. Don’t we?
Just days after the Minnetonka settlement another HOA in California was making headlines for smacking homeowners with $50 fines for basically the same thing. It appears that the Agave and Saguaro HOA in Chula Vista , California prohibits a number of kid-friendly activities in their development. This HOA prohibits their resident children from riding skateboards, bicycles, roller-skates or anything with ‘wheels’ on their driveways, common areas, sidewalks or streets. So what gives with these kooky rules?
Well the reporters down at ABC 10 News went to Prescott Management (the management company for Agave and Saguaro HOA) to ask that very question. The HOA manager claimed that some of those rules were for the ‘safety of children.’ Are these ‘safety concerns’ really legitimate?
While I completely understand the need for kids to be able to play in their communities, what happens if something goes terribly wrong? Hypothetically, let’s say this HOA changes their rules and a child gets mowed down by a car in the driveway. Whose fault is it? Well that’s the question the parents attorneys will be asking.
The argument can easily be made that the HOA should have adopted rules restricting children from playing in dangerous areas, such as driveways. One has to remember, attorneys are always searching for the deepest pockets when it comes to lawsuits and settlements. Unfortunately, those deep pockets always belong to the HOA and their insurance carriers.
HOAs and community managers seem to be in a real pickle here. If you restrict child-friendly activities, even if they may be dangerous, the HOA could be sued for a fair housing violation. If you don’t have safety rules in place, and a child gets hurt, the HOA still gets sued if something goes ‘terribly wrong.’ When it’s all said and done, and dust settles from the lawsuits, it’s the homeowners who will foot the bill once again. Well, don’t they always?
So what’s the solution to this seemingly new legal issue of Children vs. HOA’s? A large part of this problem was actually created by the developers themselves, who poorly designed these communities, and without children in mind. Very rarely do you see a developer put in a kid-friendly area where kids can just be kids. And for some reason if the developer does build a kid-friendly area, it’s always across a busy road like the development in the Minnesota case. It’s all about jamming in as many units into one confined space as possible for profit.
There’s no doubt we’ll be seeing a magnitude of new lawsuits from homeowners and federal agencies like Fair Housing. These lawsuits are going to cost homeowners billions of dollars and make HOA insurance premiums skyrocket! In my opinion, the best solution to this newly found problem is to stop building these damn liabilities!
If you ever needed another reason not to buy into an HOA……make sure that you add this one to the top of your list!
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guest blog by Dave Russell (Arizona community manager)
While HOAs are usually the most disastrous organizations ever created, can they ever really be useful? Well the residents in the Cardinal Glenn Homeowners Association, in North Charlotte, NC are hoping their HOA will soon come to the rescue.
Seems this HOA has a major issue with one of their kookie residents and can’t get any help from city leaders or the police. It seems that one of Cardinal Glenn’s residents likes to wear his birthday-suit while standing outside of his home talking on his cellphone. This, according to the neighbors.
guest blog by Dave Russell
For those of you who know me, messing with sick or disabled children is my biggest pet peeve. So when I heard the story about the StoneGate Homeowners Association, in Raymore MO and their board president Stacy Bayers, I did a little research. Now according to the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office, the StoneGate HOA was actually ‘dissolved’ back in 2009. I’ll get back to this later. For now, let’s take the story from the top.