WHEN YOU CAN’T JUST WALK AWAY
Eric Glazer, Esq.
Published April 10, 2023
A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about what Board members
should do when they are confronted with a person screaming or
yelling at them and otherwise acting nuts. In sum, the answer
was “just walk away” because in those circumstances there is
little you are going to be able to do to convince the maniac
that is screaming at you that they should calm down or otherwise
discuss the problem in a generally sane manner.
There are times however where an association cannot just walk
away. That occurs when two neighbors may be fighting with each
other and one neighbor is making comments that creates a hostile
environment due to race, religion or color. This is called
“hostile environment harassment” and it requires unwelcome
conduct because of a protected characteristic that “unreasonably
interferes” with the use and enjoyment of a dwelling, or with
the exercise of other rights protected by the Fair Housing Act.
A person is directly liable for failing to take prompt action to
correct and end a discriminatory housing practice by a
third-party, where the person knew or should have known of the
discriminatory conduct and had the power to correct it. The
power to take prompt action to correct and end a discriminatory
housing practice by a third-party depends upon the extent of the
person's control or any other legal responsibility the person
may have with respect to the conduct of such third-party.
The duty to take prompt action to correct and end a
discriminatory housing practice by a third-party derives from an
obligation to the aggrieved person created by contract or lease
(including bylaws or other rules of a homeowner's
association, condominium or cooperative), or by federal,
state or local law.”
So, suppose the association learns that one owner has called the
other owner names that creates a hostile environment due to
race, religion or color? What should the association do?
Well……we know that as a result of the declaration and rules, the
association can legally take steps to correct this situation.
The association can certainly send out a letter to the person
who allegedly uttered the derogatory words warning them to
stop. The association can threaten to fine the person for using
these words and finally, the association can threaten to take
the person to court seeking a court order that they cease their
conduct or that they be removed from the condominium or HOA.
Unlike my prior blog, in this instance JUST WALKING AWAY IS
NOT AN OPTION FOR THE ASSOCIATION.
HOA & Condo Blog
Eric Glazer graduated
from the University of Miami School of Law in 1992 after
receiving a B.A. from NYU. He has practiced community
association law for three decades and is the owner of
Glazer and Sachs, P.A. a five attorney law firm with
offices in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
Eric is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in
Condominium and Planned Development Law.
Since 2009, Eric has been the host of Condo Craze
and HOAs, a weekly one hour radio show that airs at 11:00 a.m.
each Sunday on 850 WFTL.
Eric is the first attorney in the State of
Florida that designed a course that certifies condominium and
HOA residents as eligible to serve on a Board of Directors and
has now certified more than 20,000 Floridians all across the
state. He is certified as a Circuit Court Mediator by The
Florida Supreme Court and has mediated dozens of disputes
between associations and unit owners. Eric also devotes
significant time to advancing legislation in the best interest
of Florida community association members.