Violating the Fair Housing Act (Federal and/or Florida ) can be very costly to the owners.  And it's easily violated, sometimes on purpose, sometimes because of incompetence. It happens more often than we ever hear, but the cases that go public surely make the headlines -- and cost the association owners lots of money,

Many associations depend upon “screening committees” to decide who can buy or rent in the community. That's a slippery slope, especially if there are no clear guidelines, as is the case in most associations. Some associations check on the prospective owner’s FICO Credit Scores, which can be a tricky deal.  Other associations just go by looks!  Whatever criterion is used, it could easily be twisted into a violation of the Fair Housing Act.  And the bad guys slip through anyway -- they know how to beat any of the criteria that ever have been devised.

Add the problems of 55+Communities and you are looking at a minefield of problems.

This is one of the issues where big punitive damage awards are not uncommon. The KEY COLONY NO. 4 CONDOMINIUM ASS., INC. just found out how expensive these violations can get. The board finally settled by Consent Decree and Settlement Agreement, after spending estimated $2 million on a case that actually started with some board members' dislike of kids.

A 55+ homeowners' association in Tamarac, Westwood Community Two Association, Inc., ended up with much worse results: A huge punitive damage award with liens on each owners' home, bankruptcy proceedings in Federal Court and one of the board members, an attorney, being disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court.

In case your board becomes embroiled in a case involving violations of the Fair Housing Act, please do yourself and your neighbors a big favor: Recall the board; then work to quickly settle the lawsuit.  That will stop the financial bleeding caused by these kinds of cases. As you can see from the examples below, it surely isn't worth the waste of association money!


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