Arizona HOA Forces Orphaned Teenager Out Of His Grandparents’ Home In 55-Plus Community

'I’ve stepped in things I find nicer than you people,' the boy's grandmother says of the HOA.

aerial photograph of a neighborhood
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'I’ve stepped in things I find nicer than you people,' the boy's grandmother says of the HOA.

An orphaned teenager in Arizona is being forced out of his home by his grandparents’ homeowners association, which claims that housing the teen violates the community’s covenants that only people aged 55 and over can live there, Phoenix’ KNXV-TV reports.

Collin Clabaugh, 15, lost both of his parents within the span of a few weeks. His father Clay, committed suicide. A couple of weeks later, his mother, Bonnie, died due to unspecified reasons. Orphaned, the teen had nowhere to go except to his grandparents’ home in the Gardens at Willow Creek community. The teen made the move from California to Prescott, Arizona, where the community is based.

However, Gardens at Willow Creek is a 55-plus community, and its covenants require that no one under that age be allowed to live there.

Melodie Passmore, the teen’s grandmother, says that she wasn’t intending to flout her HOA’s rules when she took in her orphaned grandson.

“We didn’t plan this. We didn’t go out one day and say, ‘Hey, let’s have Clay kill himself, and let’s have Bonnie die, and we’ll take Collin in,'” she said.

Nevertheless, the HOA is unwilling to have the teen’s presence in the community. Passmore says she and her husband received a notice from the association telling them that the boy — or they — have to go.

The Passmores were told they have until June to resolve the issue.

Collin has said that the HOA should be more flexible considering his circumstances.

“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,” he said.

The HOA, however, doesn’t see things that way. In the letter it sent to the Passmores, the association says that all of the residents of the community need to be considered in its actions.

“The board must balance the interest of all parties involved, not just the Passmores,” the association said in the letter.

The association told KNXV that allowing the orphaned boy to stay in the community — when its covenants require that only those over the age of 55 live there — could expose it to legal action.

Stories of homeowners associations being punctilious about rules — sometimes at the expense of sanity and common sense — often make the news. Usually, these disputes are about picayune matters, such as flags or Christmas decorations — not the future of an orphaned child.

As for the Passmores and their grandson, they say that they do intend to leave the neighborhood, albeit on their own terms. As for the HOA that’s forcing them out, Collin’s grandmother didn’t mince her words.

“I’ve stepped in things I find nicer than you people,” she said.