Vegas Community's Adults-Only Policy Discriminatory, HUD Says
May 2011: Earlier this month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged a Las Vegas homeowners association and its property management company with discrimination against families with children by restricting its housing to persons who are 55 and older. Specifically, HUD’s charge alleges that the homeowners association and its management company did not take the proper steps required to make the community’s age restriction legal.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating against families with children, unless the housing meets the law’s requirements for housing for older persons. The requirements provide that 80 percent of the units must be occupied by at least one person age 55 or older; that the managers of the housing publish and adhere to policies that demonstrate an intent to be housing for older persons; and that the managers verify occupancy in accordance with the law’s statutory and regulatory requirements.
According to HUD’s charge, a homeowner was in the process of selling her home to a male buyer under the age of 55 when the deal was terminated because of the homeowners association’s restrictive age policy. After an investigation, HUD alleged that the homeowners association did not meet the law’s age exemption requirements and therefore did not have the legal authority to bar sales to persons under 55, including families with children. In addition, HUD claimed that the age restrictions may also affect the ability of other homeowners to sell their homes because the policy is shown on multiple listing services.
“Limiting housing to adults over age 55 is permitted by the Fair Housing Act only in specific circumstances. HUD insists that homeowner associations fulfill their obligations in order to qualify for an exemption,” John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “HUD is committed to assist families or unit owners harmed when associations fail to follow the law."
The HUD charge will be heard by an administrative law judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If the administrative law judge finds that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to aggrieved persons for the injury caused to them by the discrimination.