Fair Housing Act (Federal and/or
) 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,
estimated $2 million on a case that actually started with some
board members' dislike of kids.
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!