The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against a Florida Homeowners Association. The issue is whether it’s legal for an HOA to discriminate against families with children. The Federal Government claims in its lawsuit that the Townhomes of Kings Lake HOA have a pattern of violating the Fair Housing Act by harassing and taking action against families with children.
In one such case, the HOA threatened to evict a couple and their six children because the number of children exceeded HOA covenants. The Justice Department claims by unduly limiting the number of children, the HOA was in violation of federal law.
A statement by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez says, “The Fair Housing Act ensures that families with children have an equal right to use and enjoy housing of their choice. The Justice Department will continue its vigorous enforcement of fair housing laws that protect the rights of families with children.”
The statement by this federal official is nothing more than astonishing. There are 302,000 Homeowners Associations in the country. Most of them regularly violate the Fair Housing Act in one way or another. Anyone who signs an agreement to abide by HOA regulations essentially signs away all his or her Constitutional rights. But the thought of this federal agency filing 302,000 more lawsuits is beyond comprehension.
Homeowners in the South Seas Condominium on Marco Island, Florida, may soon have to pay a hefty special assessment because of a particularly boneheaded decision by their HOA.
The Feds have consistently said that service dogs are covered under the ADA. An HOA doesn’t get to claim they are pets, if the dog is actually performing services for a disabled person. But this particular HOA obviously doesn’t ‘get it.’ They will.
The South Seas Condominium has been harassing 56 year old resident Larry McKay over his 80-pound boxer. In 2008, McKay contracted MRSA, a mostly fatal staph infection that’s hit a number of people in the Southeast. McKay is confined to a wheelchair, and he says the service dog does a number of things for him, such as turning on the lights, and helping him get out of bed.
McKay’s dog helps him with other activities like getting on and off airplanes. The airlines recognize it’s a service dog. This HOA board is apparently too stupid to do the same.
In other parts of the country, such as California, Homeower Associations have been hit with huge fines by the ADA because they insist that all service dogs are merely ‘pets,’ prohibited by the HOA.
McKay has lots of supporters in his condominium. Doesn’t matter. When the FDA slams this condo with a massive fine, each and every condo owner is going to have to fork up some bucks to pay for the idiotic decisions by their HOA board.
A dumb waste of other peoples’ money. But it’s typical. So typical.
By Ward Lucas, author of Neigbors At War! The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association