A condominium association in Venice, Florida loves the idea of new residents moving into the community, but only if they are husband and wife! That’s right—if an unmarried couple (regardless of sexual orientation) attempts to move into the community, it will not receive permission to do so until the domestic partners are married.

Tampa media reports this restriction, although possibly offensive, is not unlawful.   At first glance, one wonders whether such restrictions violate the Fair Housing laws, which prohibit discrimination with respect to the sale, rental, or use of dwellings based on protected classes. However, the Fair Housing Amendments Act does not include a protected class based solely on marital status.

The most common forms of discrimination claims against associations are based on familial status (i.e. targeting families with children) and handicap status (failure to provide reasonable accommodations or modifications to a handicapped person).  In this instance the pertinent restriction, on its face, does not impact either class, or the other protected categories under the Fair Housing Amendments Act.

Colorado Anti-Discrimination laws are broader than the Fair Housing Amendments Act, and do prohibit discrimination based on marital status.  So this type of restriction would not be lawful in Colorado, but do you believe it should be lawful in other states?  Do you think legislation should be enacted in other states to address these types of restrictions?

Elina B. Gilbert
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