Reader Questions - Harassment and Handicapped Parking QuestionsApr 26, 2020
Perhaps you have an answer to the following case. A homeowner in our HOA (he might have a form of mental illness) is said to have harassed a new homeowner couple based on his objection to their interracial marriage.
Some homeowners are asking the board to take action against the harassment, they claim cases like this have been ruled to be a HOA responsibility. I am looking at it as a dispute between two homeowners, a case for the police to settle or by dispute resolution.
K.N., Santa Barbara
Dear K.N.: HOAs must do what they can to respond to harassment of residents because of their membership in a protected class. This has been part of the regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development since the Fall of 2016. As of January 2020, it is also a requirement under California’s Fair Housing Regulations.
Associations, their boards, and their managers may not stand idly by as residents are harassed because of their having one of the many of the characteristics protected by law. The law requires associations to investigate the allegation, try to determine what happened, and to do what they have the power to do to try to stop the harassment.
The failure to properly respond to discriminatory harassment could subject the HOA, its board and its manager to enforcement action as well as a civil lawsuit and request for damages by the aggrieved resident.
All residents in homeowner associations deserve to live their lives free of the fear that someone may abuse them solely because of their skin, language, gender, or other characteristic that was not of their choosing. We all should not tolerate such behavior.
Thanks for your question, Kelly
Dear Mr. Richardson:
I have a blue disabled person parking tag. What rules govern street parking in a HOA where no signs are posted prohibiting overnight parking, etc.? The security company which patrols these streets is tagging cars with warning notes saying they are in violation of parking at any time unless a guest! B.H.,
The Fair Housing laws require California HOAs to cooperate when disabled residents request reasonable accommodations. This could require the relocation of a parking space closer to an elevator or to make other adjustments to help the resident.
However, the fact that one has a placard issued by the DMV does not automatically mean the HOA must cooperate with whatever is requested. If the resident’s disability is not obvious, a DMV placard may not be enough to establish the fact of disability. Under the new Fair Housing Regulations, Title 2, Section 12178(c) and (d) require residents to provide information confirming the disability and providing information as to how the disability requires the requested accommodation.
If the requested accommodation is not connected to the disability, the accommodation may be denied under Regulation 12179(a)(2). Occasionally a resident seeks special parking privileges, citing a mobility disability, but the privilege requested actually involves parking farther from their residence – an example of an accommodation that does not respond to the disability.
Fair Housing laws ensure that help gets to those who need it, and provide guidance to those who are asked to help the disabled.
Written by Kelly G. Richardson
Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Partner of Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to [email protected]. Past columns at www.hoahomefront.com. All rights reserved®.