and Video Courtesy of Channel 6, Orlando
June 6, 2015
A local family is in a battle with their homeowners association over a
fence for their son, who has Asperger's syndrome.
"He has a very real disability that you cannot see and he can't have the
one thing he really needs," Kristin Seekings said to Local 6 News with
tears in her eyes.
|"We selected a home that would be
safe for him, that would have interior components that were
safe for him, that we could provide exterior safety for him
and we're being denied that and it's not OK," she said.
The Esprit subdivision in St. Cloud does allow vinyl fences,
in fact they're all over the neighborhood. However, the
Seekings home backs up to a conservation area. The HOA will
only allow a metal picketed fence, which the Seekings said
is not safe.
"He's a climber," Kristin Seekings said about
her 5-year-old. "He's an escape artist, he is one who is not afraid of
danger, so he is going to immediately try and scale that."
|Shawn Seekings has an email chain
with the HOA that started before they moved in. When asking
for an exception, he included a letter from his son's
neurologist saying his son has epilepsy, ADHD and Asperger's
Weeks later, the family got a letter from the Melrose
Management Partnership, which runs the HOA, saying their
request was "declined," according to the letter.
Their reason: It doesn't meet the architectural review board
"What that sounds like to me is a basic line. Our
documents say what they say, we're not going to allow any exceptions,"
attorney S. David Cooper said to Local 6.
Cooper pointed to the Fair Housing Act, which requires housing providers
make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. He said the
HOA is breaking the law.
"I would say they are violating the Fair Housing Act and they have to
allow this fence," he said.
But the HOA isn't budging. No one responded to calls and emails, so
Local 6 went to the company's office.
"Are you concerned at all about a little boy who has (Asperger's
syndrome)?" Local 6's Louis Bolden asked.
"I'm going to ask you to go ahead and contact the attorney," Katherine
Montgomery said she is a vice president with the company. She also
assured us the attorney would explain the whole story. But when we
called the attorney five times over three days, he never called back.
The Seekings said they won't stop.
"They don't have the final say when there are federal laws designed to
protect you," Shawn Seekings said.
The Seekings have filed a housing discrimination complaint with the U.S
Department of Housing and Urban Development.