Federal courts and California courts have applied anti-discrimination laws to community associations prohibiting them from discriminating against families with children, unless there is a legitimate health, safety or business reason for doing so.
Singling Out Children. Associations may not prohibit children from playing, skateboarding, or riding bikes, scooters in driveways or other areas. Any rule that singles out children may be considered discriminatory. A rule that prohibits children from roller skating or riding bikes in the complex would be struck down as discriminatory. (See U.S. v. Plaza Mobile Estates.)
Even-Handed Rules. A rule that prohibits everyone (of all ages) from roller skating or rollerblading in the complex has a better chance of surviving scrutiny--but not necessarily. In a 2003 case entitled Housing Rights Center v. Rivera Town Homes #CV 02-5163PA (C.D. Cal. Feb. 2003) seven families sued their condominium association alleging discriminated on the basis of familial status because the association prohibited children from playing in the common areas. The Federal Court ordered the association to pay $130,000 in damages and to repeal its rules against children. In addition, the association agreed to a two-year anti-discrimination training program for its staff, management company and board members.
Examples of discriminatory rules include the following:
- Children cannot loiter or to play in the lobbies, hallways, stairways, atrium or elevators. (Presumably it's okay for adults to loiter and play in these areas.)
- While in front of the building, children must be well behaved and not disturb other homeowners. (But it's okay for adults to misbehave and disturb other owners.)
Safety. Rules restricting skateboarding, rollerblading and bicycle riding may be applied to specific areas that represent a threat of injury or damage, such as: (i) indoor hallways due to damage to carpet and potential injury to owners exiting their front doors (provided it applies to everyone), (ii) parking structures (potential injury from traffic and potential damage to parked vehicles), (iii) around swimming pools, and (iv) blind intersections.
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