Familial Discrimination Claims are on the Rise

The risk of racial, religious, and disability discrimination claims likely are at the forefront of most community association boards and their managers. This week, we dig into another burgeoning area on the discrimination front — discrimination against families with children.

On Aug. 29, 2019, for example, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it was charging the owners and manager of a condominium complex with violating the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by discriminating against families with children. Specifically, HUD alleges that they refused to rent vacant units to persons under age 35.

Most managers and associations know that the FHA generally prohibits “adult-only” housing, but they can inadvertently stumble into claims of familial bias in other, more subtle ways — particularly when it comes to seemingly reasonable rules regarding the behavior and even safety of children.

“The fines from HUD are stiff,” warns Robert Ducharme, a solo practitioner who has represented New Hampshire associations for 20 years. “And they aren’t covered by insurance because discrimination isn’t a negligent act.”

Familial discrimination claims often stem from older governing documents, says JoAnn Burnett, an attorney in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office of Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., who focuses her practice on fair housing and discrimination claims.

To learn about other sources of familial discrimination allegations and how you can tackle them, read our new article The Kids are All Right: How to Avoid Familial Discrimination Claims.

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey
President