The Fair Housing Act and Your Community Pool


[This article is an excerpt from an article written by Mike Hunter for the

Charlotte Observer. We believe it contains some very helpful information and suggestions]

“Most swimming pools have a list of rules posted somewhere on the premises. We’ve all seen them. The rules contain common sense prohibitions against dangerous pool activities, such as having glass in the pool area and diving into the shallow end.

And almost every set of pool rules contains a statement similar to this: ‘No one under the age of 18 may use the pool unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.’ It makes sense, right?

According to a 2012 federal court opinion from California (Iniestra v. Cliff Warren Investments), a pool rule requiring adult supervision of children violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) because it discriminated against families with children.

In explaining its opinion, the federal court found the rule requiring adult supervision to not make perfect sense if its goal was to ensure the safety of all swimmers. The court noted that the Iniestra children, who were competent swimmers, were not allowed in the pool facility without a parent, but yet adults who never swam a day in their life could use the pool facility without supervision. Also illogical was that a certified lifeguard who was under 18 could not use the pool without the presence of a parent or guardian.

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Finally - a new law that helps Associations when foreclosures occur - House Bill 2080.


The General Assembly finally heard the hue and cry from us about lenders abuse of associations in the foreclosure process. Unfortunately this new statute does not fully end the abuse. The key word in the title above is “occur”. The first benefit of the new law is that Lenders must now give associations notice at least 60 days in advance of initiating foreclosure.  How does this help us?

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Spring Projects Create Work For This Architectural Standards Committee. Are You Ready?

Q.       It is springtime and a few creative and industrious neighbors are out erecting fences and sheds as others have done in the past without requesting the permission of the Association. We are a 24 home association that recently elected a homeowner board. The developer finished the last home in late fall. We are self-managing and are not sure what to do about enforcing our covenants. We have a provision that requires that any structures or exterior modifications have to be approved by the Board of Directors but the homeowners aren't asking permission.

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There is a short summary statement about this bill being circulated that is very misleading. House Bill 2100 awaits the Governor’s signature; once signed it will go into effect on July 1, 2015.  This 11 page bill contains amendments which affect the Condominium Act and the Property Owners Association Act.  The Condo Act amendments are covered first.  This bill contains a new code section for both Acts which covers charges (fees) by associations – in essence, nearly all fees and charges must be provided for in the governing documents (declaration or bylaws)  or permitted by another statute. 

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March 2015 - The U.S. Department of Justice announced settlement of a Fair Housing violation case against a Community Association and its Management.  In addition to requiring a revamped set of Rules, the offenders must pay a $10,000 penalty to the United States and pay $100,000 to six families that suffered as a result of the discrimination.

The Complaint filed in 2013 alleged that the enactment and enforcement of a facially neutral Common Areas Rule was discriminatory. The rule provided that:

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CAI’s Southeastern Virginia Chapter will be presenting its annual Community Associations Day (CA Day) at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on March 28.  This is a full day of informational sessions and trade show featuring over 50 vendors of services to communities.  It is a great opportunity for learning and interaction with others concerned about the quality of life in community associations.   You may find out the details by looking at the following web site:  At this event Mike Inman will host a “chat room” on the topic of “reasonable accommodations” required by  the Fair Housing Act.  This federal and state law has been found to be a trouble area for community associations across the country due to lack of understanding of the law and regulations that apply regarding handicapped persons and residents with a disability.  Please join Mike for a better understanding of this topic and how to avoid the pitfalls.

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Homeowners Bill of Rights creates NO new obligations for Associations

Senate Bill 1008 awaits the Governor’s signature to proclaim a “bill of rights” for homeowners in condominiums and property owners associations.   The irony is that under “bill of rights” title on this new statute, there is nothing which changes or adds to the current statutory scheme for voting, accessing records, recording meetings or extending due process.  Instead, the proposed law seeks to gather those provisions as they are spread out throughout the Condominium Act and the Property Owners Association Act into a single place to promote greater awareness among homeowners.  For those who have read about this new law in some summary article with few specifics -- you may all exhale now.

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Announcing our new addition - Lindsey A. Flaherty, Esq.

We are pleased to announce that Lindsey Flaherty has joined the firm. Ms. Flaherty has been practicing in Hampton Roads for the last six years, initially serving as a law clerk for the circuit court judges in Norfolk. Subsequently she has been representing clients in all courts throughout Hampton Roads. She will be practicing in the areas of general civil and criminal litigation, family law and workers compensation.  Ms. Flaherty is a member of the Norfolk-Portsmouth Bar Association, the Colonial Place Riverview Civic League and the Downtown Circle of the Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters.

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Emotional Support Animals and The Fair Housing Act - a word to the wise

In the past two months we have been consulted on two situations involving emotional support animals.  Be it known that this is a topic addressed by the Fair Housing Act.  In order to qualify the resident must satisfy certain requirements. They are as follows:

Documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability. Such documentation is sufficient if it establishes that an individual has a disability and that the animal in question will provide some type of disability-related assistance or emotional support.

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