The Fair Housing Act and the Responsibilities of Your HOA

According to Kevin Davis Insurance Services, perceived or actual discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, nationality, familial status or disability is one of the most common causes of lawsuits against homeowners associations. Purchasing HOA insurance is an excellent way to address the risk of litigation. However, HOA board members should also be familiar with relevant regulations in order to avert problems.

What Kind of Accommodations Need To Be Made?

The laws addressing discrimination which most often affect HOAs are those in the Fair Housing Act. According to these regulations, residents may request, verbally or in writing, that reasonable accommodations or modifications be made in order to enable them to access their home and common areas in the neighborhood:

  • A reasonable accommodation involves altering or making an exception to neighborhood rules, services and policies.
  • A reasonable modification involves a structural alteration.

Changes can be made to the inside or outside of existing dwellings and public spaces. An HOA should seek guidance from its insurers to determine which requests are reasonable.

Who Pays?

In most cases, the costs incurred by accommodations are the responsibility of the HOA, while those associated with modifications are the responsibility of the resident. That said, if the modifications are located in common spaces customarily maintained by the association, the cost of their upkeep may be the responsibility of the HOA too.

Given the complex nature of the FHA regulations, it is understandable that they can occasionally lead to complaints and litigation. In these situations, HOA insurance can protect your board from related expenditures.