In September 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) released final regulations relating to housing discrimination, which now require community associations to investigate claims of harassment by one resident of another resident who is a member of a “protected class.” Under the Fair Housing Act, a protected class includes race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability/handicap. In the past, if an association resident harassed another association resident, the association’s board or community manager may have viewed this as a personal issue, which would not be within the association’s scope of responsibility to investigate/address. This position was based on the belief that the association neither encouraged nor participated in the alleged harassing conduct and, therefore, could not be responsible for the conduct of its residents.
NJ Division on Civil Rights Issues New Disability Accommodation Fact Sheet for Housing in Community Associations
On August 21, 2014, New Jersey’s Office of the Attorney General, Division on Civil Rights (the “DCR”) released a “Fact Sheet,” which addresses disability accommodation rights for “owners and occupants of condos, cooperatives, and other common interest communities governed by a homeowners’ association or similar entity.”
The Fact Sheet is the result of a statute, N.J.S.A. 45:22A-48.3, recently enacted, which requires the DCR, in consultation with the Department of Community Affairs, to post information on its website explaining disability rights under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”).
The Fact Sheet discusses a variety of issues related to the rights of persons with disabilities under the LAD, including examples of what will constitute a reasonable accommodation and/or a reasonable modification. The Fact Sheet also includes a section focused on assistance animals, such as service dogs, guide dogs and emotional support animals. Finally, the Fact Sheet provides information on how persons with disabilities can pursue a formal complaint if they believe their rights under the LAD have been violated by a board, association or other housing provider.
You can view the DCR’s Fact Sheet by clicking here.
For more information on this or any other issue concerning your community association, please contact one of our Community Associations attorneys. For breaking news or updates on new blog posts, follow us on Twitter at: @njcondolaw.
Hill Wallack LLP‘s Community Association Practice Group will be exhibiting at the 2014 New Jersey Cooperator’s Condo, HOA and Co-op Expo on Wednesday, May 7, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. Join board members, property managers, building owners and real estate professionals and meet building service companies, attend educational seminars and get your questions answered by a member of our team.
Hill Wallack LLP Partner Caroline Record, Esq. is among the featured panelists of experts at the Educational Seminar titled “Breaking Bad – The Insiders Guide to By-Laws & Rules.” This seminar will discuss how by-laws and rules are the keys to maintaining a harmonious community, provided that they are reasonable and properly enforced. The panel will discuss the keys to drafting, enacting and enforcing by-laws and house rules. Topics to be explored include when to change by-laws/rules; the proper and legal method of changing them; the role of your association’s attorney; how your governing documents affect by-laws/rules, and much more.
For more information or to register to attend, click here!
Hill Wallack LLP Partner Michael S. Karpoff, Esq. will speak on “Disabled Residents and the Law Against Discrimination: Reasonable Modifications of Facilities and Accommodations of Rules and Policies” at the 2012 Community Association Law Summit. This seminar is presented in cooperation with the New Jersey Chapter of the Community Associations Institute and the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section.
The summit will be held at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on Thursday, December 6, 2012, and has been approved by the Board on Continuing Legal Education of the Supreme Court of New Jersey for 6.8 hours of CLE credit, of which 1.0 qualify for ethics/professionalism credit. CLE credit is also available for PA and NY.
For more information on this seminar or to register to attend, please click here.
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.
If you have a question about this case or any other issue concerning your community association, please contact one of our Community Associations attorneys. For breaking news or updates on new blog posts, follow us on Twitter at: @njcondolaw.