By Ronald L. Perl, Esq.

On October 10, 2012, the United States Justice Department filed a lawsuit in Florida against a 249 unit homeowners association and its former manager. The Justice Department alleges that the association violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against families with children.

The lawsuit charges that Townhomes of Kings Lake HOA, Inc., and its former managing agent violated the Fair Housing Act by adopting and enforcing policies that unduly limited the number of individuals who can reside in each townhome. The suit also alleges that the association violated the Fair Housing Act by threatening to evict a couple and their six minor children from a four-bedroom townhome they were renting and by taking other actions to interfere with their occupancy.

The lawsuit resulted from a complaint filed by the family with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After they moved into the home, the management company and the association objected to the number of children living there. The association’s policy allowed only six individuals to occupy the home, which was far more stringent than what governmental regulations permitted. The association also adopted similarly restrictive limitations on the number of individuals who could live in two and three-bedroom townhomes in the development. HUD investigated the complaint, issued a charge of discrimination and the matter was referred to the Justice Department. The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the association and management, monetary damages for the affected family, and a civil penalty.

While no judicial determination has been made regarding the validity of this complaint, the case illustrates why associations should exercise caution and seek the advice of counsel when considering occupancy restrictions.

You can read more about this lawsuit here.

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