Skip to main content

See also:

Psychic sees discrimination by homeowners association first hand

The landscape of South Florida HOAs is ever changing. With the housing crisis associated with the Great Recession, more and more communities are having to deal with rental issues, and with those issues come a great deal of oversight that many boards of directors are not accustomed to.

Housing discrimination and racial profiling go hand in hand.
Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Sometimes, board members bring their own prejudices with them when it comes time to approve or deny the right of a renter to dwell in their community. These misgivings about certain individuals and professions brings us to tonight's reader question.

Q: I am in the process of renting a house in the Lantana area. My Husband and I signed a lease and paid the required fees. We also turned in the application for the HOA's and we've had problems ever since!

Although the Association has 30 days to approve or deny, they not approved us yet solely on unjust stereotypical judgement of self employed business. Our business does not bring clients to home in any form or fashion. We also agreed to sign a written statement assuring this "so called" issue as well as re sign the lease stipulating the concern of in-coming and out-going traffic...(which was my ideas) Yet, still nothing!

Only a third party relayed message stated it was said by one of the members" If you saw their websites you won't want them living here either." I'm sure your wondering what we do at this point so, here it is, I am a psychic medium and my husband is a independent contracted massage therapist. That's it!

When asked on the application what's your occupation, employer, and employers address, we simply answered self employed, and provided the website as the address of our business. In hind sight that was a mistake! Now, we are waiting on an approval and I believe they are waiting it out for us to change our minds. However, changing our minds is not an option!

I also believe the we would be the only African Americans in the subdivision. I'm not sure but the looks and behavior of the board surely points to this being a fact. I am not the person to play "the race card" as so many African American ignorantly do. But this situation causes me to wonder if the stereotypical judgement ONLY the "psychic mediumship thing" or not?

Please help anyway you can!

Here is a copy of the recent letter I sent to the home which was forwarded to the HOA.

Dear************************

This letter is intended as a follow up to the recent inquires of in-coming/out going traffic pertaining to our home-based business with regards to the *********** Lane property as well as the ********** Community. As I recently indicated to the Owner/Landlord of the residence, I (Amethyst) nor my mate (Jacques) operates face-to-face business from our dwelling place.

The business "Psychic Medium Ammie is 90% an Internet and phone based operation. Although I do see clients face-to-face, it is NOT in or close to our personal living space. I also agreed to resign our lease which would included the written stipulation of not seeing any clients in person at this property, as I already conduct business in the manner being requested.

However, Jacques was unaware that this concern/agreement included his operation as a Independent Massage Therapist who contract his service to various small business, call centers, and other business and private establishments. Due to the fact that his services, are too NOT offered in or around the premises of our dwelling place. He was not apart of the recent discussions but, is more than willing to resign the lease as well as an added Addendum agreeing to the business operations in question.

Furthermore, In reference to the concerns of traveling, as required on the application for purchase or lease, "If the question does not apply, answer N/A" which was done. We do plan to purchase a car within the next few months and will update our information with *****Property Management,*****. once we have that information to provide.

I hope this letter helps to clarify the noted concerns of our approval and to better assist in judging our application solely on our merits irrespective of race or ethnic origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, religion, disability or age.

Please Adam, help in any way you are able to. Thank you in advance

-Amethyst

A: I recently blogged on the topic of home-based businesses running afoul of single family use restrictions in community associations. Almost every set of association governing documents contains some language which identifies the use of the unit or lot as being for "single family residential use only". Still, if you peek inside the majority of homes, there is some commercial activity occurring.

In the case at hand, the home-based businesses may be the reason for the board's concerns rather than there being any discriminatory motive for the delay in approval. That being said, these renters' willingness to clarify the impact their business will have and to agree to new lease provisions outlining that they understand the community's use restrictions should assuage those fears.

These renters should be communicating with their future landlord to check the governing documents to see what occurs when the board runs past its deadline for approval. Typically, if a decision is not made within the allotted time, the transaction is deemed automatically approved but a review of the pertinent provisions in the documents is needed to confirm if that is the case in this community.

Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq., Founding Partner, Katzman Garfinkel & Berger, and executive director of the Community Advocacy Network

This case, being slightly more complex, should serve as an example of what should and should not be done when renting a dwelling in a homeowners association. With rental properties making up a higher percentage of communities on a daily basis, it is time that HOAs and renters realize that they cannot exist without one another, and that having someone occupy and take care of a home is much better than leaving it fallow.

It also brings up the sticky topic of housing discrimination.

"If she believes she is a victim of discrimination, she should file a complaint with Palm Beach County’s Office of Equal Opportunity," added Lisa Magill of the Community Association Leadership Lobby and attorney with Becker and Poliakoff.

Be sure to subscribe to this column, and stay abreast of issues involving you, the homeowners of Palm Beach County. If you've had any issues with your HOA that you'd like me to try and delve into, and possibly write about later, please let me know. Also, if you'd like to join the discussion on Twitter, you can find me at http://twitter.com/#!/faborplumbs. While you’re at it, please read my articles about local getaways,motorsports, elections, and restaurants.