As a homeowner’s association (HOA), one thing that you have to be cautious of is making any decisions that violate the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act directly prohibits discrimination by those who provide housing, such as homeowners’ insurance companies, lending institutions and others.
There are specific discriminatory actions that are banned, such as discrimination against people based on their:
- Color or race
- National origin
- Familial status
What happens when someone alleges that they’ve been discriminated against?
When someone believes that the HOA discriminated against them, they will likely file a lawsuit privately or through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Your HOA will be informed of the pending lawsuit and have the opportunity to respond.
Depending on what the claim is, the individual may have a point that you need to address. For example, if you are in charge of housing that was built after March 13, 1991, then those properties do need to have certain accessibility features. If those are missing, then it would be the responsibility of the homeowner, or homeowners’ association if they are selling or renting those properties, to make changes to accommodate those with disabilities.
Discrimination claims can be defended against. In many cases, a simple conversation with the person and taking some action to address their concerns is enough to stop a lawsuit in its tracks. Other times, your HOA will need to put together a defense. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to get to know the state laws and to take steps to build a strong defense against any allegations of discrimination.