A 15-year-old boy whose parents both died has been threatened with eviction from his grandparents’ house by their homeowners’ association, as the home is located in an age-restricted community for people over the age of 55.
Collin Clabaugh came to live with his grandparents at their home in The Gardens at Willow Creek community in Prescott, Arizona after his parents died two weeks apart in 2019.
His grandmother, Melodie Passmore, received a letter from an attorney representing the community’s homeowner association in December telling her that Collin would not be able to continue living with them, as the minimum age for residents in the community is 19.
"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 expecting the age restrictions to be followed," the document said.
It gave the family a deadline of June 2020 to make alternative living arrangements for Clabaugh, saying that it had to “balance the interests of all parties involved, not just the Passmores.”
It added that the association risked legal claims from other residents if it failed to enforce the community’s age restrictions.
“We didn’t plan this. We didn’t go out one day and say, 'Hey, let's have [Clabaugh’s father] Clay kill himself, and let's have [Clabaugh’s mother] Bonnie die, and we’ll take Collin in,'” Melodie Passmore, told ABC News affiliate KNXV. “And to heck with the HOA. It's not the way it was planned.”
“It just seems so heartless that even though we’ve explained our whole situation, it has to be the rule that dictates everything, it can’t be someone's life,” Clabaugh told KNXV.
Age-restricted communities are permitted under the Housing for Older Persons Act to enforce age restrictions on residents, while leaving other types of housing discrimination, such as that based on race, sex, religion, disability or national origin prohibited.
The law does allow individual homeowners’ associations in age-restricted communities a degree of leeway in the restrictions they choose to place on their communities. It requires that at least 80% of the occupied units are occupied by at least one person over the age of 55, but individual associations are free to allow families with children to live in the remaining 20% of the units if they wish to.
Passmore said that Hope for Clabaugh could be on the horizon however. An updated statement from the association’s lawyer issued to KNXV on Wednesday said: “The Gardens at Willow Creek legal counsel and legal counsel for the Passmores have been in contact, and the board is working with the Passmores to resolve this matter."