Florida HOA Accused of Discriminating Against Families with Children

November 15, 2012
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The Justice Department recently sued a Florida homeowners association and its former management company, accusing them of discriminating against families with children by imposing overly restrictive occupancy standards at the 249-townhome community. The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants violated fair housing law by threatening to evict a couple and their six minor children from the four-bedroom townhome they were renting.

The lawsuit arose from a HUD complaint filed by the family. Shortly after they moved in, the family said, they were told that there was a problem with the number of children living there. Allegedly, the community’s occupancy policy allowed only six individuals to occupy the four-bedroom unit, which was far more stringent than what county law permitted. According to the complaint, the community also adopted similarly restrictive limitations on the number of individuals who could live in two- and three-bedroom units. After investigating the complaint, HUD issued a charge of discrimination and the matter was referred to the Justice Department.

“Housing providers may set occupancy standards, but those standards cannot be so restrictive that they exclude families who, based on a home’s overall size and configuration, should be able to live there,” John TrasviƱa, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “HUD and the Department of Justice are committed to taking action against anyone who unlawfully denies housing to families with children.”

The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the defendants, monetary damages for those harmed by the defendants’ actions, and a civil penalty. The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct; the allegations must still be proven in federal court.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice