Fair Housing Claim Against Homeowner Association Director Allowed by District of Columbia Appeals Court

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has ruled that a board member of a homeowners association may be personally liable for violating the disability discrimination provisions of the fair housing laws by delaying action on a homeowner’s request for a reasonable accommodation in the enforcement of the association’s leasing restrictions.

When  homeowners leased  their home to a non-profit organization for occupancy by recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, the association board asked the homeowners to terminate the lease because it violated the HOA bylaws which prohibited leasing to anyone not named in lease and prohibited subleasing.   After it received a request for waiver of the bylaw restrictions as a reasonable accommodation based on the disabilities of the sub-tenants, the HOA board approved the lease. Continue reading

HOT TOPICS IN COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION GOVERNANCE!

Fair Housing, Assessment Collection, and Governing Documents are the featured topics at a FREE educational event for board members and managers presented by Thomas Schild Law Group.

Keep current on legal news and trends which affect condominium associations, homeowners, and housing cooperatives in Maryland and the District of Columbia by attending HOT TOPICS IN COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION GOVERNANCE on Saturday August 26, 2017 in Rockville, Maryland.

Attorneys Thomas Schild, Scott Silverman, and John Tsikerdanos will highlight recent court decisions, laws and federal regulations which impact the governance of every community association!  Sessions include:

>>> Understanding and Amending the Governing Documents

>>> Show Me the Money–Tips for Collecting Delinquent Assessments

>>> Avoiding Fair Housing Harassment and Accommodation Claims

Advance Registration is REQUIRED–Seating is Limited.

REGISTER NOW.

 

Posted by Thomas Schild Law Group, LLC, attorneys for condominiums, homeowner associations and housing cooperatives in Maryland–including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Howard County, Frederick County, and Baltimore County; and in Baltimore City and  Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

Will Community Associations Get Trumped?

The election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States ushers in uncertainty for a variety of federal housing policies which affect the financing and governance of homes in community associations–condominiums, homeowner associations and housing cooperatives.  During the election campaign, Trump said little about the federal role in promoting homeownership.

But, his support for reduced government regulation and the 2016 Republican Platform provide clues about how a Trump Administration may impact community associations. Continue reading

New Fair Housing Harassment Rules Apply to Community Associations

Condominiums, housing co-ops and homeowner associations may be liable for the conduct of community residents which subjects other residents to “hostile environment harassment” under new rules issued by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The new fair housing rules, which apply beginning October 14, 2016, establish nationwide standards which HUD will apply in enforcing the federal Fair Housing Act with respect to alleged harassment based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or disability. According to HUD, the rules do not create any new forms of liability under the Fair Housing Act but merely clarify HUD’s enforcement policies on “quid pro quo” and “hostile environment” harassment.  In addition, the rules clarify when a person may have vicarious liability for the actions of agents and employees in the context of discriminatory housing practices.

The new HUD rules define “hostile environment harassment” to mean “unwelcome conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to interfere with the availability, sale, rental, or use or enjoyment of a dwelling” and other housing-related activity.  Whether hostile environment harassment exists will be evaluated from the totality of the circumstances and from the perspective of a reasonable person in the aggrieved person’s position.

“Quid pro quo” harassment refers to circumstances where submission to an “unwelcome request or demand” is a condition related to housing transactions or services.

In addition to liability for a person’s own conduct and the conduct of that person’s agents and employees, the new fair housing rules also make a person liable for failing to take prompt action to correct and end a discriminatory housing practice by a third-party, where the person knew or should have known of the discriminatory conduct and had the power to correct it.

The HUD explanatory statement accompanying the rules specifically addresses the obligations of condominiums, homeowner associations and housing co-ops to act to correct a discriminatory housing practice by taking “whatever actions it legally can take to end the harassing conduct”.  And, HUD refers to the 2015 decision of the United States Supreme Court in Texas Department of Community v. Inclusive  Communities Project, Inc. in support of its position that a person’s failure to act to correct third-party harassment does not need to be motivated by a discriminatory intent in order to be liable for a Fair Housing Act violation.

Posted by Thomas Schild Law Group, LLC, attorneys for condominiums, homeowners associations and housing co-operatives in Maryland–including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Howard County, and Frederick County; and in the District of Columbia.

Fair Housing Accommodation Required Only On Resident Request

by Tom Schild

Nearly 9 years after a fair housing complaint was filed in April 2003, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled in December 2011 that a Baltimore management company did not violate the Maryland fair housing laws.

In Wallace H. Campbell & Company, Inc. v. Maryland Human Relations Commission, the resident of an apartment complex contended that the management company discriminated against him based on his disability by requiring that mediation of a dispute be held at a location which was not wheelchair accessible.  At the 2003 mediation, the management company staff physically assisted the resident and carried his wheelchair up and down several steps.  The resident did not complain about the assistance, request that the mediation be held at a wheelchair-accessible location or request any other accommodation to his disability.

Nevertheless, the resident later filed a complaint with the Maryland Human Relations Commission (“Commission”) alleging that the management company refused to provide a reasonable accommodation to the resident’s disability.  After more than 4 years of investigation and hearings, the Commission determined there had been a violation of the Maryland fair housing laws, awarded $7,500 in damages, and imposed a $5,000 civil penalty.  The Commission decision was upheld by the trial court.

On appeal, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed the decision of the Commission because the resident had not requested any accommodation to his disability and, therefore, the management company did not “refuse” to make an accommodation in violation of the Maryland fair housing laws.