Author: Trina M. Clayton
It is important to understand that familial status discrimination may occur at any stage of property rental. Our earlier blog described some of the pitfalls a landlord might run into during the pre-tenancy period. Here, we will explore potential areas of concern during tenancy.
Examples of Familial Status Discrimination
- Refusing to rent to families with children.
- Charging a higher security deposit to families with children even if the family has a good rental history.
- Increasing rent (called a “rent surcharge”) because a resident brings a child into the household.
- Steering families with children to downstairs units, certain sections of a building, or to certain buildings or areas in a development (such as near the playground).
- Restrictions on children’s outdoor recreation activities or use of common areas. This could include an “adults only” pool policy or pool hours; curfew rules that target children, or general premises rules regarding adult supervision of children.
- Examples of rules which violate the Fair Housing Act include, “children on the premises are to be supervised by a responsible adult at all times” and “persons under the age of 18 must abide by the set curfew of 10:00 P.M.”
- No playing rules such as, “Under no circumstances may children play on stairwells, walkways, or carports. Under no circumstances may children[s’] toys or vehicles be used in the above areas or in pool area.”
Rules that specifically single out and restrict children are facially discriminatory. The word “children” should be avoided in all rules. Instead, use broad and inclusive terms such as, “all residents” instead of specifying a group. In prohibiting certain activities or objects, include a list of nouns that include words that relate to both adults and children.
Narrowly Tailor: The goal of the rule must be furthered in the least restrictive means possible. Think about how to narrow a rule’s effect so that it is not unduly restricting unnecessary persons.
It is imperative a landlord abide by federal, state and local laws regarding Fair Housing. For specific legal advice on familial status or other types of housing discrimination, please contact Ad Astra for guidance.