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boy with hoseA Texas landlord whose house rules put a damper on play time is facing a lawsuit for discrimination.

The landlord oversees a 200-unit, low-income tax-credit affordable housing complex.

He is accused of sending a notice to tenants prohibiting children under age 16– and then later age 18, from being outside without adult supervision. The notice stated, in part:


The policy was strictly enforced, according to tenants. The father of one of the families says he watched from the breezeway in front of his apartment as a staff member sent his son indoors because he was playing outside without his parent standing next to him. The mother of the other family felt compelled to drive her daughter 10 minutes to the park to avoid incurring a fine when her daughter wanted to play outside. Management fined one of the two families and issued notices of lease violations and fines to at least eight other residents.

Several months after the policy was imposed, a parent claims they wrote to management that the current policy was illegal, and requested that it be retracted. Management refused. Rather than be forced to keep their children cooped up inside, both families moved from their homes. Property management charged one of the families more than $2,200 in fees and costs, and charged the other approximately $500.

The Fair Housing Act expressly prohibits housing discrimination against families, including setting restrictive terms and conditions on tenants with children.

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  • It seems like this Landlord went a bit too far with the facts presented….but parents still need to parent and supervise their kids. That to me is the main point. I see it happening a lot these days in low income apt when some parents expect the Landlord to supervise their kids….and that’s simply not our jobs.

  • Larry Blivas

    So was this landlord allowed by law to enforce this rule and the charges to tenants? For example, we have a problem with our dumpster and one tenant continues to leave their trash in the driveway and not put it int he dumpster causing odors and rats to invade. The other tenants continue to ask this tenant to put their trash in the dumpster like everyone else but they refuse and we are not sure is it would be possible to fine them or impose some other penalty? thanks

  • spotsknight

    I doubt this guy will be getting away with it because it is discrimination to families with children and that IS definitely illegal.

    In your case, you SHOULD be able to add a clause to the lease saying that trash must be placed in approved receptacles (i.e. dumpsters) or be subject to a fine. This is because it is a safety and sanitation issue that anyone can comply with and does not single out any protected group. However, if it is not currently in the lease, I’m not sure if you can add it until the next lease renewal. That will depend on your state laws and the current wording of your lease. I would recommend asking a local attorney. At the very least you can add it to all future contracts.


    The situation with the dumpster might be a city or local jurisdiction issue. You can document the hazard that is being created by this tenant and turn them in to code enforcement if they fail to comply with reasonable safety concerns. If they are endangering the community by promoting the spread of disease through vermin, then there are probably police issues. You should document your letter and notices to the tenant with care. Keep copies, use registered mail with return receipt and proof of service or use process servers. Videotape the activity in question, too. ASK them if they have something preventing them from doing this; is there a documentable underlying medical condition, is there a concern for touching the edge of the dumpster and getting germs, is there a physical disability, is there a cultural misunderstanding that can be cleared up?

    As to the jackass with the No Child Left Alone notices, how do they fine parents of unattended children who are visiting and don’t live there? What about squirrels running through their bushes ans lots? Lord help them if a Halloween ghost visits with a knock on their door; send a fine to Santa at the North Pole and the Baby Jesus if Jacob Marley comes a’ callin’. LOL. This landlord has micromanaged things that are outside of his control. No amount of contract changes can justify illegal actions that infringe upon the fair use and enjoyment rights of any person, including a child’s. What a dumbass.

  • Carolyn French

    We have rentals in Texas and have a question about deposits. Is it a law that we have to send a letter to tenants after they have moved out explaining what of there deposit we are keeping even if we had to evict them or have no forwarding address? We always send a detailed letter to the ones that we returning money to along with thanks for being good tenants, ect.

  • Ron in Colorado

    I can understand the landlord problem. I had a $200 window broken by some unattended kid who threw a rock thru it. Questioning the all the kids, they could tell me how it happened, when it happened but suffered from amnesia when it came to WHO threw the rock.

    As far as the trash situation, I’ve asked tenants not to let the small kids take the trash out to the alley for once a week pick up. They just set the trash bag next to the trash barrel instead of in it. Then the mice, squirrels, birds rip into the thin plastic bag and the wind spreads it around the neighborhood. They also drop half of it on the way to the trash barrel and don’t clean it up afterward. Then the City is sending me notices with threats of a fine if I, Mr. Evil Landlord, does pick up after the tenants.

    So should the landlord be responsible to make sure the kids are washing their hands after going poo-poo? The kids are on the landlord property!!

  • B-T Properties

    We do not believe this is illegal or discriminatory. Parents who do not keep close watch on their children are responsible for injuries of these children, sometimes even fatal ones, yet they would be the first ones to try to sue the landlord if their child gets hurt while playing on or around someone else’s property. The fact is that too often do NOT watch their children, abdicating their responsibilities.

  • Rosanne

    I can not believe this landlord has gotten away with that for so long!! Any landlord should have a good attorney at their side to help them not only create the house rules for their property but to also help evict when need be. Our management company deals strictly with low income housing tax credit properties and yes out of control children can wreak havoc on a property. Your best defense is:
    1. Have someone that works for you living on the property. This person can help keep an eye on the place for you and can also identify who belongs to which apartment. This person can be a maintenance man, manager or (for smaller complexes) someone who gets a small rent concession for helping you keep the grounds trash free.
    2. Make sure your lease states that tenants are responsible for their occupants and guests!! Once a tenant realizes that they have to pay to repair these damages they will start acting more responsible. Just be sure you are being consistant when charging for damages – meaning if you charge the couple with the child for the broken window, you also have to charge the other couple with no children for breaking their window when they locked themselves out.
    3. Make sure when you impose new rules they apply to EVERYONE! For example – instead of saying children are not allowed out after 9pm – you can say that the playground closes at 9pm. This means the playground is closed for EVERYONE – not just children. You may also impose a rule that states playing games/sports in the parking lot is prohibited. This rule applies to everyone as well – not just children.
    When it comes to fair housing – consistancy is the key!!

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