Published on March 13, 2014
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Federal Laws: How Do We Comply?
TODAY WE WILL Explain the terms “reasonable modification” and “reasonable accommodation” Provide a clear understanding of the association's requirements with regard to the Federal Fair Housing Act and other federal laws Cover the importance of reviewing governing documents for possible amendments needed to insure that the association is in compliance with state and federal laws
FEDERAL LAWS In addition to state laws, a community association must also follow and adhere to federal laws pertaining to community associations
AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT “ADA” Wide ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation based on disability Typically, community associations are governed by federal and state fair housing laws and not the ADA The exception is if the association has a place of public accommodation, club house, restaurant, etc.
FEDERAL FAIR HOUSING ACT “FHA” Combination of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 with additional revisions and the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 Prohibits discrimination based upon a person’s race or color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability Many aspects of the fair housing law apply to community associations and it is very important for boards to be aware of the requirement to follow the law
FEDERAL FAIR HOUSING ACT “FHA” Disability An individual with a disability is defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such impairment
FEDERAL FAIR HOUSING ACT “FHA” Discrimination The treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category Involves excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to other groups Can occur when the association fails to allow an “accommodation” to the community governing documents or “reasonable modification” to the community’s common elements
FEDERAL FAIR HOUSING ACT “FHA” Reasonable Accommodation An alteration to or variance of the association’s covenants, rules, regulations, policies, and services to provide the disabled equal use and enjoyment of his/her home Example: Limited enforcement of a no-pet policy if the Fair Housing Act would require “reasonable accommodation” request for a disabled individual with the need of an assistance animal
FEDERAL FAIR HOUSING ACT “FHA” Reasonable Modification An alteration to the building, common elements, or limited common elements to afford the disabled equal use and enjoyment of his/her home Fair Housing Law requires the association to allow the modification to the common elements so the disabled individual can use the facility Example: A person confined to a wheelchair may request that a ramp be installed in the association’s gym so they can use it for exercise
FEDERAL FAIR HOUSING ACT “FHA” Who Pays? An association bears the cost of “accommodations,” unless it would impose an undue financial or administrative burden The cost of “modifications” made to the residential premises occupied by a disabled resident must be paid by the resident
FEDERAL FAIR HOUSING ACT “FHA” In a HUD policy statement, “modifications” to common areas are to be paid by the disabled resident There are some inconsistencies between the language of the law and the government’s explanation, which could lead to the filing of a Fair Housing complaint Proceed with caution regarding requests for accommodations to common areas and seek the advice of the association’s attorney
ASSISTANCE ANIMALS Even with a no-pet policy, an occupant may be permitted to keep an animal as a “reasonable accommodation” To be protected by Fair Housing Act, the following must be met: The person must have a disability The animal must serve a function related to person’s disability The request to have the assistance animal must be reasonable
ASSISTANCE ANIMALS Disabled residents can request an accommodation for most types of animals for non-specific illnesses with the animals having ill-defined uses or unknown training May include depression, anxiety, or emotional support To comply, association may: Require resident to provide proof of illness/handicap Require physician’s statement that the animal is necessary for resident’s illness/handicap Require resident to follow set policies for clean-up of
ASSISTANCE ANIMALS Important to note that the Fair Housing allowances for “assistance animals” is separate from the ADA’s requirements for a more highly trained “service animal”
GROUP HOMES Amendments to the Federal Fair Housing Act expanded protections for individuals with all types of disabilities, thus banning the prohibition of “group homes” (group of unrelated disabled individuals living together in a dwelling) in community associations Not all group homes are protected under the Fair Housing laws Examples of illegitimate group homes: current addicts, substance abusers, alcoholics, criminals, those with bad credit, sex offenders
GROUP HOMES Legitimate “group homes” that serve the disabled cannot be prohibited The association has a right to enforce the same rules and restrictions asked by all residents
HOUSING FOR OLDER PERSONS ACT OF 1995 This amendment is an exemption to the Fair Housing Act allowing communities to restrict based on age “55+” or “age restricted,” provided certain requirements are followed Requires a “55+” community to: Maintain at least 80% of the occupied units with at least one person who is 55 years of age or older living in that unit Publicize and adhere to policies that demonstrate intent to be housing for older persons Comply with the rules for verification of occupancy
HOUSING FOR OLDER PERSONS ACT OF 1995 Associations must survey residents for age verification every 2 years Failure to do this could jeopardize the “55+” status An age-restricted community may allow people under the age minimum to visit and stay on a limited basis May have covenants that allow underage persons to reside in the community temporarily
HOUSING FOR OLDER PERSONS ACT OF 1995 It is important to note that the “55+” occupancy requirement is related to “occupancy” and not “ownership” of the unit
TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1996 In this act, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule (OTARD) concerning governmental and nongovernmental restrictions on viewers’ ability to receive video programming signals
TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1996 The rule applies to video antennas including direct-to- home satellite dishes and TV antennas and wireless cable antennas The rule prohibits most restrictions that: Unreasonably delay or prevent installation, maintenance or use Unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use Preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal
TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1996 The rule applies to viewers who place antennas that meet size limitations on property that they own or rent that is within their exclusive use or control Associations can enforce restrictions that do not impair installation, maintenance or use, as well as restrictions needed for safety or historic preservation
TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1996 Under some circumstances, the availability of a central or common antenna can be used by a community association to restrict the installation of individual antennas The rule does not apply to common areas that are owned by a landlord, community association, or jointly by condominium or cooperative owners, such as the roof or exterior walls of a multiple dwelling unit Therefore, restrictions on antennas installed in or on such common areas are enforceable.
BLUE QUESTION SHEETS
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