Condominium association boards of directors are always considering measures to help maintain and enhance the quality of life of their community’s owners and residents. Some associations grow concerned about too many occupants per unit and the burden that additional residents place on a community’s amenities and services, so they decide to implement occupancy restrictions in order to limit the number of people residing in each unit.
However, as a Palm Beach County condominium recently found out, overly aggressive occupancy restrictions have the potential to run afoul of the federal Fair Housing Act bans on discriminatory housing practices against couples with children, and nonprofit housing agencies are willing and able to take up the case of aggrieved residents or proposed residents.
A fair housing advocacy group called the Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches filed suit in federal court recently against the condominium association for the Fontana Condominium in Palm Beach as well as its president and property manager. The suit alleges that the defendants have discriminated against families, including those with minor children, by enacting and enforcing policies that limit the number of persons and children who may reside in the community’s units. It is seeking preliminary and injunctive relief as well as damages for the alleged discrimination against familial status in housing that violates the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The suit also seeks punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and a court order mandating that the defendants establish a victims’ fund for those were victimized by their discrimination.