Age-qualified community’s rules might violate Fair Housing Act

Q: Does a grandfather clause exist or is it applicable to the covenants and rules and regulations within an age-restricted community? When the rules for occupancy existed when I moved into the community they had no impact to my situation but after some amendments to the covenants, it appears the new changes could very well affect me, after living there for several years. It would also affect other individuals in the community. I am being proactive in seeking the facts prior to any possible problems in the future.

The specifics are that my mother lives with my wife and I. If she were to die, the new rule states that we can not live in the community anymore. This is all based upon the age-qualifier requirement. When we moved in, the rule stated that the age qualifier could vacate the unit and the other occupants (who do not meet the age requirements) would be able to stay. The new rule says we have to vacate.

The other issue is that 80 percent of the community’s residents have to be older than 55, so that leaves 20 percent for the balance of residents. We fall in the 20 percent if my mother passes. We should be able to remain in the community based upon that fact. Does a grandfathering clause apply to age-restricted covenants when new amendments are implemented?

A: The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, amended the Civil Rights Act of 1968 by adding the handicapped and families. You could not discriminate against adults who had children — but two exceptions were included in the law.

The law defined elderly housing to mean either a community where 100 percent of its occupants were 62 years old or older or at least 80 percent of the units were occupied by at least one person who was 55 years or older.

There are many communities in Southern Nevada that claim to be elderly or age-restricted communities, but in fact are not as they do not meet the qualifications of what constitutes an elderly or age-restricted community.

The law does not read 80 percent of the occupants have to be 55 years or older but that 80 percent of the units have at least one person who is 55 or older. Essentially, that means that 20 percent of the units could have families that are not 55 or older.

The rule that your association has passed that when the age-qualified person vacates the unit other occupants who are not age-qualified must leave the community does not appear to be consistent with the fair housing laws. Your association appears to violating the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988.

In addition, your position that you should be “grandfathered” is consistent with many court cases. When you moved into the community, the regulation allowed the residents who did not meet the age requirements to remain in the community. You have a strong case. If you want to be proactive, you may want to contact the U.S. Housing and Urban Development office in Las Vegas to discuss the issue. Under certain conditions, they can investigate the association. You also may want to contact an attorney whose field is discrimination.

In other news, a number of associations have gas lamps in front of their homes. Many of these associations have discovered that the repairs, improvements and cost of the gas have substantially increased. A group of homeowners are trying to negotiate with Southwest Gas Corp. to reduce these costs to residents and their associations. If you are interested in finding out more about this issue, please e-mail your name and e-mail address to J. Hall at the following address:

Barbara Holland, certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager, is president and owner of H&L Realty and Management Co. Questions may be sent to Association Q. & A., P.O. Box 7440, Las Vegas, NV 89125. Her fax number is 385-3759. Questions may be shortened and are subject to editing.

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