November 12, 2012
Hill Wallack LLP Partner Michael S. Karpoff, Esq. will speak on “Disabled Residents and the Law Against Discrimination: Reasonable Modifications of Facilities and Accommodations of Rules and Policies” at the 2012 Community Association Law Summit. This seminar is presented in cooperation with the New Jersey Chapter of the Community Associations Institute and the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section.
The summit will be held at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on Thursday, December 6, 2012, and has been approved by the Board on Continuing Legal Education of the Supreme Court of New Jersey for 6.8 hours of CLE credit, of which 1.0 qualify for ethics/professionalism credit. CLE credit is also available for PA and NY.
For more information on this seminar or to register to attend, please click here.
October 11, 2012
On October 10, 2012, the United States Justice Department filed a lawsuit in Florida against a 249 unit homeowners association and its former manager. The Justice Department alleges that the association violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against families with children.
The lawsuit charges that Townhomes of Kings Lake HOA, Inc., and its former managing agent violated the Fair Housing Act by adopting and enforcing policies that unduly limited the number of individuals who can reside in each townhome. The suit also alleges that the association violated the Fair Housing Act by threatening to evict a couple and their six minor children from a four-bedroom townhome they were renting and by taking other actions to interfere with their occupancy.
The lawsuit resulted from a complaint filed by the family with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After they moved into the home, the management company and the association objected to the number of children living there. The association’s policy allowed only six individuals to occupy the home, which was far more stringent than what governmental regulations permitted. The association also adopted similarly restrictive limitations on the number of individuals who could live in two and three-bedroom townhomes in the development. HUD investigated the complaint, issued a charge of discrimination and the matter was referred to the Justice Department. The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the association and management, monetary damages for the affected family, and a civil penalty.
While no judicial determination has been made regarding the validity of this complaint, the case illustrates why associations should exercise caution and seek the advice of counsel when considering occupancy restrictions.
You can read more about this lawsuit here.
If you have a question about this case or any other issue concerning your community association, please contact one of our Community Associations attorneys. For breaking news or updates on new blog posts, follow us on Twitter at: @njcondolaw.
May 25, 2012
The Justice Department yesterday released a new technical assistance document, “Questions & Answers: Accessibility Requirements for Existing Pools at Hotels and Other Public Accommodations,” regarding the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act to swimming pools. The Justice Department also released an updated version of its “ADA 2010 Revised Requirements: Accessible Pools—Accessible Means of Entry and Exit.”
These regulations have been issued pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), not the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), so they apply only to businesses, government facilities and “public accommodations.” Private entities who own, lease or operate facilities that are open to the public, such as restaurants, retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, private schools, convention centers, doctors’ offices, day care centers, and recreation facilities, are considered places of public accommodation. Community associations whose facilities are not open to the public are likely not public accommodations, but associations should consult with counsel to be sure.
If you have a question about whether you must comply with these regulations, or any other issue concerning your community association, please contact one of our Community Associations attorneys.
April 19, 2012
Hill Wallack LLP Partner Terry A. Kessler, Esq. will be one of several speakers participating in the “Understanding Fair Housing Today” seminar, presented by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (NJDCR) and Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Social Justice. This seminar, presented in recognition of Fair Housing Month, will take place on Monday, April 23, 2012, from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark. There is no charge to attend this event, and up to 5.5 NJ & NY CLE credits will be available.
Ms. Kessler will speak on defending fair housing claims during a panel discussion titled “Understanding the Role of HUD and NJDCR in Handling Housing Discrimination,” which will take place at 3:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. The keynote speaker will be John Trasviña, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Other panel discussions will include emerging issues in Fair Housing Act litigation and the fair housing implications of the foreclosure crisis, and additional speakers will include Seton Hall Law Professor Rachel Godsil and Professors Linda Fisher and Kyle Rosenkrans of the Seton Hall Law Center for Social Justice; private practitioners; and representatives from regional HUD offices, the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Opportunity (FHEO), and the NJDCR.
To register, or for more information, please contact Daphney West, CSJ Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 973-642-8700.
February 16, 2012
Hill Wallack LLP’s Condo FAQs is a continuing series in which we answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) pertaining to condominiums, cooperatives and homeowners’ associations. These FAQs relate to various issues that include interpretation of governing documents, board meetings, suspension of privileges, collections, or bankruptcy and foreclosure.
Question: What constitutes a “reasonable modification” under the Fair Housing Act and when must my association agree to a request from a resident for a modification?
Answer: The Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) makes it unlawful to discriminate in housing based on numerous factors, including race, religion, familial status and disability. One action specifically prohibited by the FHA is the refusal of housing providers, which includes community associations, to permit a reasonable modification – e.g., a structural alteration – of an existing property, occupied or to be occupied by a person with a disability, when the modification may be necessary to afford the person with full enjoyment of the premises.
In order to clarify the questions surrounding what constitutes a “reasonable modification” under the FHA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, issued a Joint Statement that reinforced the rights of persons with disabilities to make “reasonable modifications” to their dwellings or, in some cases, to common areas of a building or complex, so that they can fully enjoy the premises. The stated purposed of the Joint Statement is both to assist housing providers and community associations to better understand their obligations as well as to encourage persons with disabilities to know their rights regarding the “reasonable modifications” provision of the FHA.
The Joint Statement explains who qualifies as a person with a disability under the FHA and what information may be requested by a housing provider or community association regarding the disability. The Joint Statement also discusses specific examples of what constitutes a “reasonable modification,” such as widening doorways to allow for wheelchair access, installing grab bars in bathrooms, or installing a ramp to provide access to a public or common area, such as a clubhouse. Further, although the FHA requires housing providers and community associations to permit these modifications upon proper notice and a request, in many circumstances the person requesting a modification is responsible for payment of any costs involved.
You can read the Joint Statement here.
If you have a question about reasonable modifications under the FHA or another community association issue that you would like us to address, please e-mail it to us, along with your name and your association, to email@example.com.
Appellate Division Affirms Suspension of Parking Privileges for Non-Payment of Association Fees Despite Disability
November 28, 2011
The Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court has affirmed a decision of the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights, which found that the Victoriana Condominium Association did not act in a discriminatory manner when it suspended the parking privileges of a disabled unit owner for non-payment of association fees. The decision in Shearn v. Victoriana Condominium Association, an unpublished opinion decided on November 23, 2011, found that the Association had suspended Shearn’s parking privileges in connection with his repeated failure to pay condominium assessments. The court determined that the suspension of privileges was a remedy authorized by the Association’s governing documents and had been applied in a non-discriminatory basis, irrespective of Shearn’s disability. In fact, Shearn had not requested a disability accommodation until after his privileges were suspended, and he was granted an accommodation after presenting the Association with adequate medical documentation concerning his disability. In this case, both the administrative agency and appellate court found that the delinquent owner’s demand for a parking accommodation was unreasonable under the circumstances. The Appellate Division opinion can be found here.
If you have a question about suspension of privileges, disability accommodations or any other issue concerning your community association, please contact one of our Community Associations attorneys.