Bridgewater HOA Lawsuit: What You Need to Know

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Homeowners associations (HOAs) are legal entities that are responsible for maintaining and enforcing the rules and regulations of a community. While HOAs can provide a number of benefits, such as maintaining common areas and enforcing aesthetic standards, they can also be a source of conflict for homeowners.

One recent example of HOA conflict is the case of Watters v. Homeowners Association at the Preserve at Bridgewater. In this case, a Black homeowner alleged that the HOA discriminated against him and his family on the basis of race. Specifically, the homeowner alleged that the HOA refused to provide him with copies of the HOA’s restrictive covenants, harassed him about his mailbox and paint color, and prevented him from building a privacy fence.

The homeowner filed a lawsuit against the HOA in federal court, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The case is currently ongoing, but it has already raised important questions about the role of HOAs in our society.

HOAs and Discrimination

HOAs have a long history of discrimination against homeowners of color. In some cases, HOAs have explicitly excluded people of color from buying homes in their communities. In other cases, HOAs have enforced their rules in a discriminatory manner, targeting homeowners of color for minor infractions while ignoring similar violations by white homeowners.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability. HOAs are subject to the Fair Housing Act, which means that they cannot discriminate against homeowners on any of these protected grounds.

The Bridgewater Lawsuit and Its Implications

The Bridgewater lawsuit is one of a number of recent lawsuits that have challenged the discriminatory practices of HOAs. These lawsuits have helped to raise awareness of the issue of HOA discrimination and have led to some reforms.

For example, in 2021, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a new rule that prohibits HOAs from discriminating against homeowners who want to install solar panels. This rule was a direct response to the growing number of HOAs that were blocking homeowners from installing solar panels on their homes.

The Bridgewater lawsuit is still ongoing, but it has the potential to have a significant impact on the way that HOAs operate. If the homeowner is successful in his lawsuit, it could send a message to HOAs that they cannot discriminate against homeowners on the basis of race or any other protected ground.

What Homeowners Can Do

If you believe that you have been discriminated against by your HOA, you should take the following steps:

  1. Document everything. Keep a record of all communications with your HOA, including emails, letters, and phone calls. Also, take photos or videos of any evidence of discrimination.
  2. Contact your local fair housing agency. Fair housing agencies can provide you with information about your rights and help you file a complaint if necessary.
  3. Consider legal action. If you believe that you have a strong case, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit against your HOA.

Conclusion

HOAs play an important role in many communities, but they also have the potential to be a source of conflict and discrimination. Homeowners who believe that they have been discriminated against by their HOA should take steps to protect their rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is an HOA?

An HOA is a legal entity that is responsible for maintaining and enforcing the rules and regulations of a community. HOAs are typically governed by a board of directors that is elected by the homeowners in the community.

Q: What are the benefits of living in an HOA community?

HOAs can provide a number of benefits to homeowners, such as maintaining common areas, enforcing aesthetic standards, and providing security.

Q: What are the drawbacks of living in an HOA community?

HOAs can also be a source of conflict for homeowners. HOAs often have strict rules and regulations that homeowners must follow. HOAs can also be expensive, as homeowners are required to pay dues to cover the cost of maintaining the community.

Q: What are the signs of HOA discrimination?

Some signs of HOA discrimination include:

Being treated differently than other homeowners

Being denied access to common areas

Being harassed or threatened by the HOA

Being fined or penalized for minor infractions

Q: What should I do if I believe that I have been discriminated against by my HOA?

If you believe that you have been discriminated against by your HOA, you should take the following steps:

Document everything. Keep a record of all communications with your HOA, including emails, letters, and phone calls. Also, take photos or videos of any evidence of discrimination.

Contact your local fair housing agency. Fair housing agencies can provide you with information about your rights and help you file a complaint if necessary.

Consider legal action. If you believe that you have a strong case, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit against your HOA.

Q: How can I prevent HOA discrimination?

There are a number of things that homeowners can do to prevent HOA discrimination, including:

Educating themselves about their rights. Homeowners should understand the Fair Housing Act and other laws that prohibit discrimination.

Getting involved in their HOA. Homeowners should attend HOA meetings and participate in the HOA’s governance process.

Working with other homeowners to address discrimination. Homeowners can form groups or committees to address discrimination in their communities.

Additional Resources

  • National Fair Housing Alliance: https://www.nationalfairhousing.org/
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: https://www.hud.gov/
  • National Association of REALTORSĀ®: https://www.nar.realtor/
  • American Civil Liberties Union: https://www.aclu.org/

 

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