Man sitting at a desk working on paperwork

Homeowner’s Associations Push Evictions because tenants are Disabled. I’ve stopped them every time. 

J. Courtney Cunningham July 7, 2023

Parents of adult children with intellectual disabilities or mental illness, often wonder what will happen to their children when they die.  It’s a dreadful thought, but one that’s presents real challenges that must be managed.  Some parents will buy condominiums or houses for their adult children so that they are assured that their children will not join the growing throngs of homeless people on American streets.  Parents think they can rest easy in the thought that their child will always have a place to live.  If only it were so easy.

Many of the neighbors of these disabled people don’t want them there.  Disdain is not subtle.  It’s not refusing to speak or staring that provides the clue.  These neighbors get together with their homeowner’s associations and make every to evict their disabled neighbors from their homes.  I’ve successfully resolved two cases and have a third one pending.  Parenthetically, you might ask why parents can’t institutionalize their adult children.  Simple answer—they can’t because insane asylums are a thing of the past.  They don’t exist anymore.   People with mental disabilities have a right to live just like any other American if they are not a threat to themselves or others.  Most people would view institutionalization as an absolute last resort.  It would not be an option if the adult child could live alone or with the assistance of a home health care aide. 

In the latest case, a condominium association tried to evict mentally disabled woman in her fifties.  Her father purchased a beautiful condominium for his daughter where she could live safely and peacefully.  He purchased a nearby unit for himself.  The father had to sue the condominium association for violation of the Fair Housing Act.  Her father, who is in his eighties, had previously worked out a settlement with the association which required that they call him, among other things, if there were problems with his daughter.  The parties were supposed to work together, but almost as soon as the settlement was reached, there were problems and there continued to be problems.  It seemed that the condominium association was not going to be satisfied until she was evicted.  After the parties settled, the federal court closed the action, but retained jurisdiction to handle subsequent matters.

Several months later, the condominium association filed a motion to enforce the settlement which was really a motion to evict my client.  I filed a response to the motion claiming that all issues complained about in the motion to enforce had been resolved.  Further, we claimed that my client was not a “direct threat” to herself or anyone else.  The “direct threat” language is from the Fair Housing Act.  Under the Fair Housing Act, the only way that a person with mental disabilities can be evicted from their housing is through a finding that the person’s behavior constitutes a “direct threat” to the health and safety of themselves or others. 

In addition to losing the motion to enforce the settlement agreement, the condominium association will also be required to pay the legal costs for my client, the prevailing party. 

If you or anyone you know is facing a similar situation under the Fair Housing Act, or if you’re facing eviction because of housing discrimination, call me.  Hopefully, we can work together to resolve the issue.