One of the jobs of a homeowner association’s management is to enforce rules by requesting homeowners to do or not do various things, and imposing fines on members who break the rules. This can set up an antagonistic relationship between homeowners who are frequently testing the limits of the HOA’s rules. But sometimes management can enforce the rules in ways that appear to discriminate on a racial or other basis. When that happens, the homeowner may have the option of pursuing a lawsuit to put a stop to the discriminatory behavior.
Housing discrimination is unlawful
Federal and state laws prohibit homeowner associations from discriminating against a range of protected classes of people. The federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (“FHAA”) prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, marital status, and national origin. The FHAA also prohibits most discrimination against families due to their having children (an exception applies to communities reserved for seniors). The FHAA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUD).
Nevada’s housing discrimination laws protect the same classes as the FHAA, and also extend to gender identity or expression. The Nevada Equal Rights Commission processes complaints that allege housing discrimination under state laws.
How might an HOA unlawfully discriminate?
The specific role an HOA plays at various stages of a homeowner’s ownership varies from association to association. An HOA’s actions might discriminate in two basic ways: by deliberately treating people of a protected class differently, or by adopting policies that have a disparate impact upon a protected class. Here are some examples of how these forms of discrimination might arise:
- An HOA only enforces yard maintenance rules against members of certain ethnic groups.
- Management consistently denies home modification applications submitted by members who do not attend the local church.
- The board approves changes to the association’s common areas that do not make reasonable accommodations for a resident’s handicap.
What at first may appear to be discriminatory behavior may not turn out to have an unlawful character once more facts are uncovered. An attorney can help someone who feels that they have been discriminated against to examine the facts and build a potential case.
GGRM is a Las Vegas law firm
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez provides personalized, attentive service to clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have concerns about potentially discriminatory actions taken by your homeowner’s association call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.