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Arizona condo owner files suit against homeowners' association

A lot of people dislike their homeowners' associations (HOAs) for various reasons. However, sometimes the issues evolve straight into a legal battle.

The owner of one Phoenix condo has filed a lawsuit against his HOA and its property manager over what he says was blatant race and age discrimination toward his tenants.

The lawsuit comes in response to action taken by the HOA to limit the condo's owner from renting to anyone who has children 16 and under. The charge of racial discrimination comes from email conversations between the property manager and the condo's owner that reference the tenants he had at the time. The property manager took pains to point out that the renters were black. The condo's owner states that the HOA's actions, in addition to being discriminatory, make it unreasonably difficult for him to find suitable renters.

The HOA's property manager claims that she never intended to violate discrimination laws and that the rule against children has now been rescinded. However, when the condo's owner argued against the age limit when it was first imposed, he was initially told that the HOA felt it was entitled to have age limits.

That's not true. HOAs exert considerable control over their neighborhoods and residents. However, there are some limits. Communities can be restricted to those 55 and older, mostly because many such communities were in existence when the Fair Housing Act was passed. Those communities make it easier for senior citizens to find affordable housing in convenient neighborhoods.

Under no circumstances is it acceptable to discriminate based on race. The property manager claims, however, that she wasn't being discriminatory. She was simply notifying the owner -- who lives some distance from the property -- that the tenants were black. Why she felt the need to do so is unclear. However, it seems to have something to do with the idea that they might make "trouble" for the owner.

Don't allow an HOA to disrupt your life, and don't allow discrimination to keep you out of the home of your dreams. You have options. A real estate attorney can help you assess a Fair Housing Act complaint and decide how to proceed.

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