Q & A

Preventing Fair Housing Violations When Setting and Enforcing Community Rules

Q What common fair housing problems arise from community rules?

A In general, community rules trigger fair housing problems in one of two ways—either the rules are enforced unfairly or the rules themselves are unfair.

Revoking Parking Privileges Without Violating Fair Housing Law

Q Must an association grant a parking request as a reasonable accommodation when the member hasn't paid his condo fees?

A No, according to a New Jersey court, which ruled in a recent case that the member's parking accommodation request was not reasonable.

Determining Whether a Requested Accommodation Is Necessary

Q A disabled member asked the board to allow his car to be permanently parked in a guest parking space as a reasonable accommodation, after the board asked him to remove the car. The car has not been moved in two years. It has an expired inspection sticker and is, therefore, inoperable. Under the reasonable accommodation provisions of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), are we required to grant him this request?

Starting a Neighborhood Watch Program

Q  I am a member of a community association, and I would like to organize a neighborhood watch program to help prevent crime in the community. My husband is the president of the board of directors. I am worried about liability issues the association might incur as a result of my husband's relationship with the board. Will there be a conflict of interest with my husband's role as board president? Can I organize a neighborhood watch program without the association incurring any additional liability?

Maintaining Community’s Age-Restricted Designation

Q  I manage a 55-and-older-designated adult community. There has been recent concern that we may not meet the Fair Housing Act limits to maintain our age-restricted designation. Can our association pass a rule that no one under 55 years of age may live in it? If not, can we adhere to the requirement that 80 percent of occupied units are occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older by passing a rule that says that those 20 percent of units without a 55+ person must be occupied by relatives of a deceased over-55 owner?

Using “Project Approved” Signs to Encourage Compliance with Architectural Review Committee Guidelines

Q  Over the years, we have had issues with association members who have made modifications to their homes without obtaining the necessary approval from the association. Also, as a result, suspicious members regularly make calls to the management office to ask if particular neighbors have been granted approval by the architectural review committee for whatever project the neighbor happens to be working on. Can you recommend any efficient way to put association members on notice of approved projects in the community?

Curfews for Children

Q There have been problems with children spray painting and otherwise vandalizing buildings at night in the community that I manage. To stop the graffiti and vandalism, I'd like to propose a curfew and prohibit children under the age of 16 from being outside after 10 p.m., unless accompanied by an adult. Is this legal?

Board Members Serving as Committee Chairs

Q Is it true that the vice president of the executive board often chairs the architectural review committee? Could you provide any pros and cons of having a board member serve as a committee chair?

Assessing Liability for Water Damage Caused by Leaky Roof

Q Due to a leaking roof, rainwater entered the building and caused damage to a condo member's unit. As is typical, the master deed of our condo association requires the association to maintain the roof and other common elements, and requires condo members to maintain the interior of the units.

Defenses Against Defamation Lawsuits

Q My association publishes a community newsletter and hosts a community Web site. I can readily imagine a situation in which a disgruntled member or local business falsely accuses the board of defamation for something that may be published in the newsletter or on the Web site. What are the defenses against defamation lawsuits?