CBS News in Denver recently ran a story about a controversy taking place in a local HOA relating to some residents allegedly complaining about a little girl in the community creating sidewalk art with chalk. Evidently, this seemingly normal childhood activity has created something of a divide in the community.
While it’s up to everyone to decide for themselves whether the chalk art of a child is offensive, the bigger legal question is whether creating a rule prohibiting chalk art in an HOA is a violation of the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (“FHAA”) or the Colorado Civil Rights Act (“CCRA”).
Offensive? (Photo courtesy of thechive.com)
Both of these laws forbid discrimination based upon “familial status” which in part prohibits rules that single out children under the age of 18 who live in an HOA. Obviously, the creation of a rule that specifically prohibits children from playing on the common areas of an HOA would be a violation of these laws. However, HOAs can generally avoid violations of these statutes by ensuring that their rules apply to everyone in the community – regardless of age.
If your HOA is facing an issue of whether to regulate the activities of children, please consult with your legal counsel before creating and enforcing such a rule. You should ask legal counsel:
- Whether the rule you are contemplating would specifically single out children; and
- Whether a general rule that applies to everyone in the community would still single out children – since the activity you are attempting to regulate is typically only undertaken by children.
Always remember when dealing with potential issues of discrimination that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!