HOAs and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Buying a home means the realization of a dream for most folks, but it can also mean subjecting yourself to the rules of the local homeowner’s association. There can be definite benefits for buying a home that is “overseen” in by the HOA. But HOAs can also be hard to deal with. Just ask Lexington, Kentucky mother, Tiffany Veloudis. Her son is afflicted with cerebral palsy and needs a special playhouse for therapy purposes. The playhouse, which is quite attractive and hardly noticeable from the street, is in violation of the restrictions that Dr. and Mrs. Veloudis agreed to when they bought their home. They are now embattled in a fight to keep the house on site. The issue at hand is whether or not private HOAs should have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Recorded deed restrictions can make everything from erecting a fence to owning more than two dogs an offense. In the Lexington case, the HOA informed the family that the playhouse was in violation of deed restrictions that bar enclosed space structures. The family argued that the playhouse is necessary for the child’s therapy. The child has impaired speech and limited movement on one side of his body due to his disease.

Although the situation is yet to be resolved, the HOA has agreed to look at medical evidence that shows that the child needs the playhouse as part of his therapy regimen. It is possible that the HOA will allow an accommodation that will allow the playhouse to remain in place under Federal Housing Act guidelines.
The Fair Housing Act applies to all HOAs, but the Americans with Disabilities Act, an act that prohibits discrimination again people with disabilities, does not apply. A Kentucky legislator wants to change that. Representative Richard Henson filed a bill in December 2011 that would “make it possible for families with special needs children to have therapeutic play structures” when needed by making HOAs comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This unfolding drama raises a lot of questions. Should whether or not an HOA will be looking over your shoulder be a consideration when you look for a home? The role of the HOA is supposed to be to protect the home’s value while enhancing your enjoyment of living in a particular neighborhood. The reality is, however, that there are some drawbacks to HOAs. I mean after all, most HOAs can tell you what color you can paint your home, where you can park your car, and more. HOAs can have a substantial control over many aspects of your life within the communities that are subject to them.

Nonetheless, there can be advantages to you if you are considering buying a home that is within a development governed by an HOA. The biggest of these is that property values within these areas tend to stay higher than those in non-HOA areas. This is because most HOAs maintain the streets, landscaping and more for the entire neighborhood, which makes it look more appealing to buyers. And this also means that you don’t have to worry about properties around you becoming eyesores that, in turn, make it hard for you to sell your home on down the road.

This article is brought to you by Palm Harbor Real Estate in Florida with the assistance of Jennifer Mackay at Panama City Homes. Thank you Jennifer for helping us write this informative article on the HOAs and the Americans with Disabilities Act.