Watch Out For Familial Discrimination Claims
JoAnn Burnett, an attorney in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office of Becker & Poliakoff who focuses her practice on fair housing and discrimination claims, says familial discrimination trips up many associations.
“They have provisions in the governing documents — especially rules and restrictions but also in declarations — regarding children,” she says. “Even if not enforced, it’s a problem if they’re on the books.
“A lot of those rules get overlooked because they don’t look menacing on their face, but once someone gets a hold of it for a fair housing complaint, the association is going to be in trouble.” Rules requiring children to wear water diapers in the pool represent one such culprit.
David Muller, a shareholder and board-certified specialist in condominium and planned development law with the Naples, Fla., office of Becker & Poliakoff, says he regularly hears from boards about what he calls “the incontinence issue,” where an association has a water diaper rule for kids but not for adults with the same problem.
“The key is to draft such rules so they’re age-neutral,” he says. “Instead of saying children have to wear swim diapers, you say all persons who are incontinent must wear appropriate attire when in the pool. A lot of clients think this is silly and just PC, but, as lawyers, we’re just interested in potential liability, and associations have run afoul of this in the past.”
Learn more about other common fair housing issues that regularly trip up associations, and how you can steer clear, by checking out the second installment of our series: