Recently, a neighborhood HOA approached me with a question regarding family care homes in North Carolina. The HOA contained covenants and restrictions which limited the use of homes in the neighborhood to single family residences only. The question was whether an owner in the neighborhood could establish a family care home based on the neighborhood restrictions. Despite the restrictions written in the HOA covenants, the answer is yes, the owner can establish a family care home. The jurisdiction of the Family Care Home bill supersedes any restrictions imposed by the HOA.
In 1981, the North Carolina Senate passed the “Family Care Home” bill which permits family care homes for handicapped people in all residential and zoning districts. Pursuant to public policy, the purpose of the bill is to prohibit discriminatory zoning laws pertaining to persons with disabilities and to provide persons with disabilities the opportunity live in a residential environment that is normal.
What is a family care home you may ask? A family care home provides room and board, habilitation services and personal care services in a family environment for no more than six residents with disabilities. In order to qualify as a person with a disability, the person must have a temporary or permanent physical, emotional, or mental disability including but not limited to cerebral palsy, mental retardation, epilepsy, hearing or sight impaired, autism, emotional disturbances and orthopedic impairments. However, mentally ill persons defined as dangerous to others (as defined by G.S. 122c-3(11)b.) do not qualify for family home status. The bill states the home is automatically deemed a residential use of a property for zoning purposes and is permissible in all residential districts of all political subdivisions meaning that no subdivision shall require a family care home contain a conditional use permit, special use permit or variance from a zoning ordinance. However, the subdivision may prohibit a family care home from being located within a half-mile radius of an existing family home care facility.
The most important aspect of this bill states that restrictions, reservations, conditions, exceptions, and covenants of a subdivision may not prohibit the use of a family care home facility in the neighborhood. Any restrictions are considered void and against public policy. Therefore, a homeowner or homeowners’ association may not prohibit a family care home in their neighborhood via covenants and restrictions. If a neighborhood’s covenants and restrictions state all homes must be a single-family residence, a family care home qualifies as a single-family residence. Any restrictions stating otherwise are void.
Published by Bess Harris Reynolds on March 15, 2017