By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
This month’s collection of lawsuits filed against HOAs includes Fair Housing Act violations, condo residents made ill due to mold in the common areas, and a homeowner’s request to de-annex his home from the HOA.
Suit Against Association for Emotional Support Animal Denial Sends Message to Fla. Condos, HOAs
These new policies and signs have raised awareness of the perceived abuse of ESAs by people trying to take advantage of federal disability laws in order to take their pets into businesses.
By Elizabeth A. Bowen | December 10, 2018 at 09:25 AM
As a result of the growing skepticism, community association boards of directors can easily fall into the trap of disregarding requests for accommodations for ESAs and summarily rejecting them.
A recent lawsuit by Broward County against a Lauderhill condominium association illustrates the potential pitfalls of such uninformed actions by associations. The county filed suit in federal court against the Environ Towers I Condominium Association seeking damages and injunctive relief for its alleged violation of federal fair housing laws as well as the Broward County Human Rights Act.
Unfortunately, some boards of association-governed communities assume that all requests for Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are fake. They dismiss a resident’s disability as real, even when presented with evidence from a physician or mental health professional. The fact is, some disabilities are invisible to casual observers.
At the same time, people who abuse federal Fair Housing Acts and Americans with Disabilities Acts create credibility challenges for people with verifiable disabilities.
Condo owners will be paying for this lawsuit, and the association’s insurance policy might exclude coverage of legal fees involving violations of the Fair Housing Act.
St. Louis condo owner alleges black mold in common area caused illness
By Angelica Saylo Pilo | Nov 30, 2018
ST. LOUIS – Three residents of a St. Louis condominium allege black mold in the common area caused illness.
Patricia Nejmanowski, et al. filed a complaint on Nov. 15 in the St. Louis Circuit Court against McPherson Place Condominium Association, et al. alleging premises liability and negligence.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs purchased a condo on McPherson Avenue, St. Louis in June 2014 and the common area below the unit is maintained by McPherson Place Condominium Association.
The plaintiffs allege prior to their purchase of the unit, the basement common area developed black mold and the defendants had knowledge of it. The suit states prior remediation efforts did not remove the mold.
Patricia Nejmanowski alleges she developed serious illnesses as a result of the exposure to the mold.
In this case, 3 condo residents allege that their association isn’t maintaining the basement common area, and didn’t inform them of a black mold problem that existed before they moved in. The problem could have been avoided if the condo association had done regular maintenance, such as using a dehumidifier and cleaning up mold before it grew into a serious problem.
It’s unclear whether the residents are owners or tenants. Either way, all condo owners will pick up the tab for this lawsuit as well as cleaning up the mold. Given the nature of the allegations, the condo’s insurance policies may not fully cover the defense of the condo association. And most condo insurance policies won’t cover the cost of cleaning up mold or repairing damages to common property.
No peace in sight as battle over Idaho Christmas display rages on
By: Melissa Luck
Posted: Dec 10, 2018 02:28 PM PST Updated: Dec 10, 2018 02:28 PM PST
HAYDEN, Idaho – The fight between a North Idaho homeowner and his homeowners’ association continues, despite a court ruling saying his large Christmas lights display did not violate the rules of the HOA.
Jeremy Morris filed a motion in federal court last week, asking for “de-annexation from the West Hayden Estates Homeowners Association.”
Morris requested de-annexation in from the HOA in his earlier lawsuit. Now that a jury agreed that the HOA violated the Fair Housing Act by religious discrimination, the homeowner doesn’t think he will be able to sell his home, due to negative publicity about the HOA. So he’s once again asking the court to remove his home from the HOA.
Legless Vet Lost Wheelchair Ramp During Home Purchase
By Clint Confehr – January 3, 2019
NASHVILLE, TN — A U.S. military veteran removed a wheelchair ramp from the house he was buying to avoid litigation threatened by a homeowners association, a fair housing advocate reports.
The double amputee’s family installed the ramp two days before closing on the purchase and the association threatened to sue the closing attorney if the sale was finalized, according to Tennessee Fair Housing Council Executive Director Kathy Trawick.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is investigating the 71-year-old African American’s complaint, Trawick said. The vet’s mortgage is with the Veteran’s Administration, so the ramp was required. “The VA passed it. The people took it down really fast and closed on the loan.”
There’s no public record on this case, she said. “It’s in a nice [Davidson County] neighborhood, obviously, because it’s got a neighborhood association…
“Associations think they don’t have to comply with the law, but they do,” Trawick said.
This outrageous travesty of justice is now an administrative case, that, if not settled, will proceed to court. Why would any HOA insist that a disabled home buyer remove the wheelchair ramp that he’ll need to enter his home immediately after closing? If, for some reason, the sale did not go through, that would have been the time for the HOA to request removal.
The Tennessee Fair Housing Council (TFHC) previously settled a case where an HOA repeatedly denied a couple’s requests to build a sunroom to meet therapeutic needs of their two children with Down’s Syndrome. The HOA had to pay the family $156,000 after they were forced to sell and move to another home.
Unfortunately, non-profit organizations such as TFHC have very limited funding, and cannot handle the many complaints they receive each year.