MN Condo Assn. Accused of Unlawfully Prohibiting Children

A condominium association for Greenbrier Village in Minnetonka and association management firm Gassen Company are accused of discriminating against potential homeowners and renters by enforcing an adults-only policy.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said Monday that it has charged a Minnetonka-based condominium association and its management company with an alleged violation of a federal housing law for prohibiting the sale or rental of units to families with children.

The charge was issued against Greenbrier Village Condominium III Association, the condo association for a building at the Greenbrier Village community in Minnetonka. (Different associations establish policies for each of the six buildings that comprise Greenbrier Village, according to HUD.) The charge also names Gassen Company, Inc., an Eden Prairie-based condo association management company, and two Gassen-employed property managers for Greenbrier Village.

According to HUD, Greenbrier III’s residency policy stated: “No apartment may be sold, leased, or rented to any person who has a child under the age of 18,” nor may a child stay at a residence for more than 14 days a year. The Fair Housing Act, however, dictates that only condos designed specifically for seniors may enforce such a policy. (To meet the federal requirements for senior housing, at least one family member age 55 or older must reside in at least 80 percent of the households at a property.)

The charge states that a husband and wife, who purchased a unit at Greenbrier Village in June 2011, were informed of the policy prohibiting children, but they were not required to verify that they had a household member who was at least 55 years old. The couple claims that the adults-only policy hindered its ability to rent out the unit.

HUD interviews revealed that there was no verification process in place to ensure that seniors were living in the units, and the property did not qualify as senior housing, according to the charge.

A Gassen property manager, who declined to provide her name, said Monday that the company is not commenting on HUD’s allegations.

The charge will be heard by an administrative law judge, unless an involved party chooses to bring the case to U.S. district court, HUD said. If an administrative judge concludes that the Greenbrier Village association and/or Gassen violated the Fair Housing Act, he or she may “impose a penalty of up to $16,000 to vindicate the public interest” and award damages to those who were negatively affected, HUD said.

“Condo associations that don’t meet federal requirements as housing for older persons don’t have the right to turn away families with children,” HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity John Trasviña said in a statement. “HUD will continue to take action against homeowners associations that violate the Fair Housing Act by imposing restrictive residency policies.”