How to Assure Fair Use of Your Site's Community Room
Community rooms can serve as an invaluable hub for programs and events for residents of your site. HUD encourages—and federal laws require—equitable access to and usage of your site's common areas and community room for all residents. Handbook 4350.3 (HUD Occupancy Handbook), Chapter 2, notes that under the Fair Housing Act, owners may not “treat anyone differently in determining eligibility or other requirements for admission, in use of the housing amenities, facilities or program, or in the terms and conditions of a lease.”
For the specific purpose of using your community room for resident meetings, HUD says that you should work cooperatively with such groups as long as they are legitimate resident organizations that meet regularly, operate democratically, are representative of all residents at your site, and are independent of nonresident owners and management agents [Management Agent Handbook, 4381.5, Chapter 4]. Handbook 4381.5 further states that you “may not reasonably withhold the use of community rooms or other available space” and that you may charge a fee for such resident use “only if a fee is normally charged for the use of such space.”
But this addresses only a specific scenario for resident use of your community room. What about the resident who is looking for meeting space for an outside organization he belongs to? Or the resident who wants to use the space to host an anniversary party for her parents? For these kinds of requests, a written policy you can refer to comes in handy. A written policy can ensure that the same rules apply to everyone. For an example of a written policy that you may adapt for use at your site, click here.