BLACKHAWK -- A family that says its children were banned by their homeowners association from trick-or-treating or playing outside has sued the HOA in federal court.

Seth Neri and his wife, Carolynn, say the Tennis Villas at Blackhawk imposed rules targeting their three minor children from engaging in typical kids' activities, including going door to door on Halloween, hanging holiday decorations and playing in their neighborhood.

"There is a problem when children are not allowed to go trick-or-treating in their own neighborhood or play with their father in front of their own home," the Neris' attorney, Stuart Fagan, said Thursday. "The Fair Housing Act guarantees families with children that they won't be treated differently from adult-only households. Sadly, this homeowners association and its management company fail to realize that families with children have rights, too."

The Tassajara Valley looking southeast from Tassajara Rd. , just west of the east Blackhawk gate. (STAFF FILE PHOTO)
The Tassajara Valley looking southeast from Tassajara Rd. , just west of the east Blackhawk gate. (STAFF FILE PHOTO)

In May, one of the Neri sons wrote a letter to all the neighbors "to introduce themselves and ask the neighbors to remember what it was like to be kids in hopes of getting them to change the no-playing rule," the complaint reads.

Two of the letters were returned to their mailbox marked, "No Move!!" and "No Way! Move."

The lawsuit, filed in federal court Wednesday by the Neri parents and their children, alleges that the Tennis Villas homeowners association and Community Association Management, which runs the gated development of 30 single-family homes, discriminates against families with children in violation of state and federal housing laws.

The suit asks for court intervention to change the rules and monetary damages.

Community Association Management did not return calls for comment Thursday.

The lawsuit alleges that they have been treated differently from other neighbors since they moved into the development in April 2012. Rules surrounding parking, landscaping and light fixtures appeared to only apply to them, it reads, giving the family the feeling that they were being targeted.

According to the suit, the family was told that their children were not welcome in common areas that adult residents frequented freely, and if the children played outside, a lien would be placed on their house.

When Carolynn Neri confronted the acting president of the board about the returned letters, she was told some people in the neighborhood were upset that the Neris are a mixed-race couple, the lawsuit says. The family was told that the neighborhood is supposed to be a "senior living community" and they should move somewhere that's more kid-friendly.

Staff writer Jeremy Thomas contributed to this report. Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.