Avoiding Discrimination Under the Fair Housing Act
Your condo association would never dream of turning away potential condo owners based on their race, religion, or familial status, but did you know your pool rules could put you in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA)?
What is the Fair Housing Act?
The FHA states that condo associations may not discriminate against people based on familial status, and families have brought cases to trial and won by saying that pool rules violate the FHA. For example, do your pool rules state that children who aren’t potty trained can’t enter the pool? That people under the age of 18 must be supervised by a parent? A case can — and has been — made that these rules are discriminatory.
How to Avoid Accidental Discrimination?
The condo association’s intent likely isn’t to discriminate. It’s probably to keep the pool free of the hazards of non-toilet trained babies, keep the pool available for lap swimming, or keep noise down. If these are the intentions, it’s best to make creative rules that have the same end result, but don’t discriminate against families.
For example, rather than keep babies out of the pool, insist that they wear swim diapers. Instead of barring children from the pool, set aside a section of the pool for lap swimmers. Instead of barring anyone under 18 from entering the pool without parental supervision, consider that 15-year-olds can be certified lifeguards and act accordingly.
It doesn’t make sense that a lifeguard would have to be supervised, does it? A rule that children under 14 must be supervised makes sense, but be sure the rule says “adult supervision” rather than “parental supervision” in case a child lives with a guardian who is not a parent.
These are subtle, but powerful differences and will result in a clean and safe pool as well as a lawsuit-free association.
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