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Feldsott Lee Pagano & Canfield
Orange County Homeowners Association Law Firm

Can homeowners' association boards make discriminatory rules?

This is the question that one condominium owner in one of California's neighboring states is asking. The problem that many people come across is that homeowners' association boards believe that they can make any rules they want -- even if they end up discriminating against groups of people protected by federal and state law. Making matters worse is that HOA members believe it as well, so boards are never appropriately challenged.

HOA boards may attempt to disguise their discrimination with the way they word rules, but most of them simply are not that clever. A thorough review of the rule when put up against the law often reveals the bias and discrimination. It only takes someone willing to step forward to bring it to everyone's attention.

An Arizona condominium owner is doing just that. He rented his home to a black family that had children. After some time, the HOA board began contacting the owner with complaints about the renters.

It then changed the community rules to ban anyone under the age of 16 from living there. Only certain communities can restrict members based on age, and this man's community does not qualify. In addition, the owner believes that the true motivation behind the rule change was to rid the community of a black family based on emails he received from the board.

Both federal and California law prohibit housing discrimination. Homeowners' association boards do not have the right to make rules that attempt to keep certain people out of a neighborhood based on a protected status. Anyone experiencing a similar situation, whether as an owner or a renter, may benefit from discussing the matter with an attorney experienced in HOA matters.

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