Court Finds HOA Liable for Familial Discrimination — Before Trial

A federal district court recently found that an HOA’s age-based rules regarding its recreational facilities were so obviously discriminatory that no trial on liability was even necessary. Do your associations know how to avoid getting themselves into a similar position?

Brian and Anne Hill bought a single-family home in the 333-unit River Run HOA. They and their children — ages 1, 3, and 5 — lived there from August 2014 through March 2015.

In 2013, the HOA enacted rules for its recreation center, which includes the clubhouse, pool, and tennis courts. The rules defined the term “adult” as an individual age 19 or older.

Under those provisions, during the summer when the pool is open, the recreation center manager would open the clubhouse for “ADULT USE ONLY.” No one under age 14 could use the pool unless accompanied by an adult, and residents ages 14-18 were limited to one guest per person, notwithstanding a per-household limit of six guests.

In addition, during the Hills’ residency in the community, a sign on the tennis court gate gave adults court privileges over children after 3:00 p.m. weekdays and any time on weekends or holidays. And a sign on the clubhouse wall read “Quiet Swimming Only in Pool & Jacuzzi.”

After the Hills filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) alleging that River Run had “overly restrictive rules on children,” the HOA removed and replaced the signs. It also amended its handbook and pool rules to eliminate the restrictions on children’s use of the recreation center.

The Hills still filed a lawsuit against the HOA, asserting that the signs and clubhouse rules targeting children and families with children were unlawfully discriminatory on their face. The federal district court found the association liable without even going to trial.

To find out why, and how your clients can avoid similar result, read our new article, Age-Based Rules Spell Trouble for HOAs.

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey

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