Fair Housing - Take a Look at Your Rules!

We are often asked to review rules and regulations for our clients during the cold winter months, before the community pool becomes the haven of unsupervised children running wild on summer break.  Our clients are shocked when we advise them that their rules could cause problems under the federal Fair Housing Act.

It seems reasonable to impose rules limiting access to attractive nuisances like swimming pools, but some courts have held that rules restricting or limiting access to pools, clubhouses, and park facilities on the basis of age violate the Fair Housing Act's prohibition against discrimination on the basis of familial status.

If your "House Rules" treat children, and therefore their families, differently than they treat families without children, you may need to consider a re-write.  Any rule that treats people differently based on familial status needs to have a compelling business justification, and must be drafted in the least restrictive manner possible.  For example, a rule prohibiting a five year old's use of a sauna is more restrictive than a rule prohibiting his use without parental supervision.  While it seems logical to try to prevent young adults from damaging property and wasting Association money, inappropriate rules aimed at these young adults can cost the Association much more money in the long run.