The Array Apartments in Austin, Texas, has announced a ‘mandatory’ curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. each night. But legal experts are skeptical such a rule can be enforced.
In a move reminiscent of a dormitory for college freshmen, or perhaps a summer camp for children, an apartment complex in Texas has announced a legally dubious curfew that demands residents stay inside their units all night long.
The curfew at the Array Apartments begins at 10 p.m. and goes until 5 a.m., according to local news station KXAN, which first reported on the situation last week. The apartment’s management first announced the curfew in a notice to residents, KXAN reported. The notice states that “it is mandatory for all residents to remain indoors and restrict their movements outside their homes, except for emergencies or authorized activities.”
Ford Sanders, a reporter with local station KVUE, tweeted a photo of the notice, which states that the curfew is a response to “security concerns and potential public health and safety concerns.”
The notice also encourages residents to hunker down with provisions, saying they should “make necessary arrangements to procure essential items like groceries, medications and other supplies ahead of curfew hours.”
The notice doesn’t include additional details about what might have prompted the curfew, nor does the notice explain how managers plan to enforce the rule or what might happen to those who break it. The notice concludes by saying that “together, we can overcome this challenging situation and emerge stronger as a community.”
According to KXAN, Austin 311 — the city’s information and help line — has received about 950 calls since the beginning of 2022 from the street where the apartment is located. Of those calls, 91 reportedly came from the apartment complex itself, and 62 of those calls were “police-related.”
Array management did not respond to Inman’s request for comment Monday.
Despite the official sounding language in the notice, legal experts were skeptical of the curfew.
“I don’t see how they can do that,” Shaun W. Pappas, a New York-based attorney who focuses on real estate, told Inman. “It’s ripe for a lawsuit.”
Pappas said apartment managers can close certain areas of their properties —
think common spaces, terraces or pools — during certain hours. But ordering
residents to stay inside all night would likely violate their civil rights.
“To actually say you can’t leave your apartment, you can’t get away with that,” he added.
Pappas said some residents may be tempted to obey the curfew because they won’t know it is illegal. But if it were him, Pappas said, “I wouldn’t comply whatsoever.”
Austin-based attorney Bill Gammon had a similar take while speaking with KVUE.
“The apartment complex can’t do this. This is ludicrous,” Gammon said, adding that he’d advise residents to simply ignore the rule.
In all likelihood, residents who do ignore the rule won’t face any penalties; KXAN reportedly got in touch with an unnamed property manager who said he couldn’t enforce the rule and that the security company working at the complex suggested sending out the notice.
The apartment curfew comes after a period during which curfews generally became more widespread thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. As case counts rose in 2020, for instance, California issued a stay-at-home order for multiple counties that required people to remain inside between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Parts of Ohio, New Jersey, Colorado, Massachusetts, Florida and many other states also imposed curfews, as did a number of foreign countries.
However, the COVID curfews were imposed by elected officials, not private property managers, and in any case have long since been lifted.
Despite the questionable legality of property managers attempting to keep residents inside at night, the Array Apartments is not the first complex to announce a curfew. Over the years, managers at apartments in Gainesville, Florida, Dallas, Texas, and Raleigh, North Carolina have all imposed curfews at their properties — often to the consternation of residents.
Now, that appears to be exactly what’s happening in Austin. Speaking to KVUE, Array resident Kristie Broadaway said the curfew notice she received makes it sound “like I’m in some hurricane area where they have martial law.” Broadaway also said she searched her lease but couldn’t find anything giving management the authority to impose a curfew.
“If I can’t go outside or have friends over after 10,” she added, “I may look for somewhere else to live.
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