This case involved an action by association members (Owners) against their homeowners association (Association) for alleged violations of the federal Fair Housing Act due to the HOAs rules discriminated against children and Owners based on familial status. Familial Status is defined in the Fair Housing Act as one or more individuals (who have not attained the age of 18 years) being domiciled with a parent or another person having legal custody of such individual or individuals. In short, familial status discrimination entails discrimination against families with children.
Associations common area facilities included a Recreation Center that consisted of a clubhouse, swimming pool, spa, deck, patio, area, and tennis courts. Rules relating to the use of the Recreation Center were included in a Handbook that was given to all homeowners in the community. The rules defined an Adult as an individual that was 19 years of age or older. The Handbook contained the following provisions:
- When the pool was open during the summer season, the Recreation Center Manager would unlock the clubhouse for adult use only.
- No member or guest under the age of 14 could use the pool or spa unless accompanied by an adult.
- Guests are limited to six per household.
- Residents 14 through 18 years of age are limited to one gust per person.
Separate and apart from the Handbook, Association had signs by the tennis court and the clubhouse stating:
- Adults have court privileges over children after 3:00 p.m. weekdays and any time on weekends or holidays.
- Quiet Swimming Only in Pool & Jacuzzi.
When they purchased their home, Owners received a copy of Associations CC&Rs along with its Handbook, and a copy of the Architectural Committee Rules.
In their action, Owners contended that Associations common area signs and other printed material that set forth Associations rules for use of the community swimming pool, tennis courts, and clubhouse violated various provisions of the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against their children.
The trial court stated that a violation of the act by Association did not require a discriminatory intent but rather a finding that the statements in issue suggested a preference to an ordinary reader or listener. Because the court found that Associations rules and signs expressed a discriminatory preference for adults over children, it found Associations above-mentioned rules to be facially discriminatory by unambiguously targeting children of a certain age group and treating families with children differently than other households. According, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Owners after finding that Association had not raised a genuine issue of material fact as to a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its tennis court, clubhouse, and pool guest rules.
Idaho United States District Court decision (February 7, 2020).
See case decision: Hill_v._River_Run_Homeowners_Ass’n