Geist homeowner’s association looks to ban registered sex offenders from community

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A new proposal by a homeowners association in Geist is raising some eyebrows.

Earlier this month, homeowners received a letter for a proposed amendment to community regulations that would “restrict registered sex offenders from living in the community.” In the letter the Geist Harbours Property Owners Association, which oversees more than 2,000 homes in the community, said it needs the approval of at least 75 percent of homeowners for the proposal to move forward.

Several homeowners say at first glance, they had some questions.

“My first thought was like, we said do they have the authority, or anybody to do something like that,” Steve Reising said.

“I haven’t heard the other side of it. I’d like to hear people who say this is not the right thing to do, and if so, why?” Craig gosling said.

The letter expressed that the proposed regulation wouldn’t apply retroactively to registered offenders currently living in the community.

Real estate attorneys say in cases like these, HOA enforcement powers are wide-ranging.

“They can’t discriminate based on race, or anything like that, any other protected class. They can make sure the houses follow a certain protocol that are enumerated in the declaration itself as far as what type of siding band things like that are put up,” said Michael Mahoney of McAnlis Law Group. “They can’t just deny somebody some sort of housing based on their race or some other protected class.”

Registered sex offenders are not a protected class when it comes to housing.

Geist Harbours issued the following statement regarding the proposal:

“We have worked closely with our association’s attorney in preparing these restrictions. The proposed restrictions are limited to those offenses classified as sex and violent offenses by Indiana law and which are serious enough to require registration on the statewide registry. The owners in Geist Harbours do not wish to prohibit any and every individual with a criminal history, but we are concerned about repeat violent offenders and protecting our residents – especially children – from violent crimes. While there is nothing an association can do to protect against any and all possible criminal activity, we believe this to be a positive step toward creating a safer, more secure subdivision and helping protect our residents from violent crimes. For these changes to be valid, 75% of our owners would have to approve, which in our case is 1,777 owners. Accordingly, this is not going to pass unless the owners overwhelmingly support the restriction.”