You usually move into a new home with every intention of getting along with your neighbors and following community rules. However, if you choose a property that has a home owner’s association (HOA), your neighborhood’s requirements are more than polite expectations—they are legally binding. But what happens if there is an HOA restriction on who can live in your house and a relative suddenly needs to move in? This situation raises the question: What can I do when my family member needs to stay with me, but my HOA says no?
The Passmore Case
Last month, Arizona grandparents Melodie and Randy Passmore, had to confront this issue when their fifteen-year-old grandson Collin was orphaned. In fact, news of the Passmore family’s heart-breaking story has made national headlines. The reason for the attention—Their Prescott neighborhood HOA’s heartless enforcement of a community age restriction in the wake of the family’s sudden tragic loss.
In February 2019, the Passmore’s grandson Collin was living in California when he lost his mother, Bonnie, to a chronic illness. Two weeks later, Collin’s father committed suicide. Following these tragic events, Collin moved from his California home to live with his maternal grandparents, Melodie and Randy in their home in The Gardens and Courtyard at Willow Creek, an age-restricted community in Prescott, Arizona.
The HOA’s Letter
Soon after suffering the loss of their daughter and son-in-law, the Passmore’s received a letter from their HOA, instructing them to find other accommodations for Collin. The letter cited an HOA rule that requires residents to be at least 19 to live in the community. The grieving family was given until June 30, 2020 to comply. This left the Passmores with the choice of selling their home and moving or trying to find someone else to care for Collin just as he was getting settled into school. However, selling their home is not a realistic option as the couple has limited income and used much of what they had to buy their home in Willow Creek. Additionally, the Passmores are uncertain they could qualify for another mortgage loan or manage the physical hardship of moving their household.
In its letter to the Passmores, the HOA said, “The board appreciates the difficulty of these circumstances but must balance the interests of all parties involved. The Passmores, and all other owners who purchased property in an age-restricted community are expecting the age restrictions to be followed.” When interviewed, Melodie Passmore responded to this statement by saying, “I’ve stepped in things I find nicer than you people.”
The HOA May Have Flexibility on the Age Restriction
According to reports, the HOA rules do allow the HOA to make an exception to allow someone younger than 19 to reside in the community. When interviewed, Collin expressed his hopes that the HOA will allow his family to remain in their home and make an exception. News of the HOA’s refusal to exercise its discretion to allow Collin to remain with his grandparents has sparked intense criticism of the group. Some have made disparaging remarks about the board and any complaining community members.
It remains to be seen if the HOA will make an exception and allow Collin to stay with his grandparents. However, this story demonstrates the tensions that can arise between HOA covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) and a homeowner’s use of their property. When you have a relative in need, your CC&Rs may or may not limit how long they can stay in your home. If you are like the Passmores and live in an age-restricted community, you may be bound by similar restrictions.
If you are considering buying a home in a community that has an HOA, you should review any associated agreements with an experienced Arizona real estate attorney before moving forward with your purchase. Your counsel can help you understand the parameters of the CC&Rs and identify any potential issues. If you are in a dispute with your HOA, your real estate attorney can assist you in evaluating your situation and assessing your options.
Laura B. Bramnick is an experienced Arizona real estate attorney who can help you examine all aspects of your Arizona HOA matter. If you are seeking an exceptional, client-driven real estate lawyer in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Sedona, and throughout the State of Arizona, contact Laura B. Bramnick to schedule your consultation.