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Can HOAs have rules banning people with criminal records?

Many Californians live in homes that are governed by homeowners associations. HOAs are able to set certain rules and guidelines that the covered homeowners are expected to follow. However, there are some rules that HOAs are unable to make.

Some HOAs may want to implement rules banning homeowners from renting or selling their homes to people who have criminal records. While this rule may appear to make sense, it is not legally allowable. While people with criminal records are not members of protected classes because of their convictions, these rules may disproportionately impact members of minority groups, which are protected.

Rules that have a disparate impact on members of a protected class are prohibited. In order to prove that a rule has a disparate impact, plaintiffs must show several things. They must first show that the rule or policy disparately impacts a specific protected class. The HOA must then offer proof that the rule or policy is justified and serves a legitimate purpose. If the HOA is able to offer that type of proof, the plaintiffs may then show that the legitimate purpose may be achieved by other, less restrictive means.

People who are engaged in HOA disputes because of rules that they believe are prohibited might want to consult with real estate lawyers who are experienced with homeowners' associations. Attorneys may be able to assess what has happened and offer opinions about whether or not the people have valid legal claims. If they accept representation, the lawyers may then work to resolve the dispute through negotiations. In the event that negotiations fail, the attorneys may pursue legal remedies for their clients through the court process. While HOAs may set rules, the rules that they implement must comply with local, state and federal laws and must be nondiscriminatory in nature.

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