Fair Housing laws prohibit housing discrimination based on age or family status with certain exceptions. Landlords may not impose rules on families with children that they do not impose on other tenants although reasonable rules narrowly written for health or safety reasons or to protect children from danger are exceptions. Landlords may inadvertantly discriminate against families with children when trying to warn about safety issues.
The majority of Fair Housing cases handled by our offices involve alleged discrimination against families or single individuals with children when the landlords had no intent to violate Fair Housing laws. Although the landlords intended to act in the best interests of the children, a Fair Housing complaint was filed and the landlords were sued.
Pointing out a safety issue is a common way to violate Fair Housing laws. For example, telling a potential tenant with minor children that the rental is on a busy street or that an upstairs apartment with a balcony might not be safe for a toddler are two comments that have resulted in Fair housing complaints. Advising applicants with children that there is no place for children to play also violated Fair housing laws.
However, rules regarding the use of swimming pools and gyms are allowed depending upon how the rules are written. If you are contemplating a rule targeted at children, it is best to consult with our office before implementing the rule in order to avoid a Fair Housing complaint.