Barker Martin

Condo-HOA Blog - David Silver

New FHA Rules to Create New Association Duties

On September 13, HUD released new rules for the Fair Housing Act (FHA) that will impact community associations. Under these new rules, which take effect on October 14, 2016, a community association could face liability for the discriminatory acts of residents who harass or create a hostile environment for other residents. read more

Community Associations Day, September 26th

The Washington Chapter of the Community Associations Institute (WSCAI) is hosting its annual Community Associations Day, or "CA Day" for short, on Saturday, September 26. read more

Accommodating Accommodations - A Follow-up

Last summer, I blogged about a condominium association in Florida whose board inexplicably delayed a resident's request to keep a service animal at the condominium. Although the resident was clearly confined to a wheelchair, the Board required unnecessarily extensive "proof" of the resident's disability, and, even after they received it, delayed granting an exception to the association's pet restrictions. These actions were deemed to be unreasonable. You can read about it here: In that blog post, I provided several simple tips to guide a board's decision-making when confronted with a request for an accommodation or modification under the FHA. While the FHA may be rather complicated, complying with requests for reasonable accommodations due to disability should not be. Yet, I just read about another association that got it very wrong. The facts of McHale v. Water's Edge Association, No. 1:14-cv-23381-UU (S.D. Fla. Dec. 1, 2014), read like an FHA "don'ts" list. Ms. McHale, a resident who suffers from mental and physical disabilities, requested permission to keep an assistance animal despite the condominium's no-pets policy. She provided requested documentation substantiating her disability and need for the emotional support animal to fully use and enjoy the unit. And then, the alleged bad behavior began: Ms. McHale claims she was verbally harassed by the association president, received repeated notices of violations of the no pet policy, and was asked to provide sworn testimony from her treating psychiatrist as to her disabilities and further evidence she needed the animal (which she provided). Moreover, the association enacted new pet rules that required pets to be in carriers when not in the unit, and that laundry facilities could not be used for pet bedding. Not surprisingly, Ms. McHale sued the association alleging the above facts and violations of the FHA, among other things. Preliminary motions have were heard, and the court found the association's actions amounted to a refusal to make the requested accommodation, which allowed the case to go to trial. While it appears the parties recently reached a confidential settlement, this lawsuit illustrates the types of factors that can land an association in court. Avoiding this type of litigation should not be that difficult. Association Boards should remember that there is more to complying with the FHA than simply allowing a person to keep an animal they otherwise would be prevented from keeping. If you harass the person about the animal, if you enact or enforce rules that make it burdensome for the disabled person to keep the animal, or if you make the application process difficult or too lengthy, you run the risk of violating the FHA for refusal to make reasonable accommodations, or constructive denial. This case, like the Sabal Palm case I discussed in June, seemingly could have been avoided by a little education, and a little common sense. If we can assist with either, please give us a call! read more

Don't Buy It Twice

If you are an association manager or board member and regularly receive communications from the association's attorney, you should consider creating a physical and/or virtual file where important emails and opinion letters are kept. read more

Director's Only Swim Time

Are your pool rules regulation? read more

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