The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against a Minneapolis association, its management company, and its property manager for allegedly adopting condominium rules that illegally discriminate against families with children, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination, monetary damages, and a civil penalty.
The Department of Justice claims that the association, management company, and property manager enforced rules prohibiting playing on the grass and riding bicycles against children but not against adults. In addition, the association’s rules allegedly ban children specifically from “playing in hallways, stairwells, driveways, elevators, garages, or any other potentially dangerous area.”
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The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of familial status. As a result, to avoid discrimination claims, community associations must adopt and enforce rules that apply to all residents, not just children. For example, a rule prohibiting bicycling in the parking lot should state: “Bicycling in the parking lot is prohibited” as opposed to “Children are not permitted to bicycle in the parking lot.” In addition to adopting proper rules that apply to all residents, an association must evenly enforce the rules against adults as well as children.