J.C. from Hartford County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
There is a relative of one of our home owners whom is homeless by choice and sleeps in her car in the homeowners’ carport for the winter. How can we stop this?
Mister Condo replies:
J.C., Yikes! That is most unfortunate. Homelessness is an epidemic all across the nation and condominium and HOAs are certainly not immune from the problem. I hope this person gets the help they need but I can understand the concern of you and your neighbors as to how best to address this issue. As I usually suggest, you need to begin with your condominium’s governing documents. My guess is that they spell out how the carport can and cannot be used. Clearly, the intention of a carport is to house automobiles. The documents may not explicitly spell out that people are not allowed to sleep in cars housed in the carport but your Board can add language to the documents to clarify the rule. I would recommend that the association consult with an attorney who specializes in community association law so as to make sure that the language used doesn’t discriminate against any one unit owner. The association doesn’t want to end up defending itself in a discrimination lawsuit because it targeted one unit owner. Whatever rule is passes needs to be universally applied to all unit owners. I am guessing that won’t be a problem unless other unit owners are sleeping in their cars in the carport.
I assume that this relative is aware of this person sleeping in their car. The bigger question for me is why aren’t they inviting them into their home to sleep? It seems awfully cruel to ask a human to sleep in a car and it seems cruel to offer only limited assistance to a relative who is down on their luck to the point they have become homeless, even if it is by their own choice as you have stated. The association has every right to insist that they sleep elsewhere and not on association-owned common ground. Good luck to this individual and your association!