Landlords Run Afoul of Rules for Renting to Families

In recent news there have been a number of renters alleging discrimination by landlords against children. In the past few months alone, HUD has charged many different landlords and managers with violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against families.

The landlord of what he claims is an owner-occupied rental faces up to $16,000 in fines for refusing to rent to a single mother and her 14-year-old child.  He allegedly told her the property was not suitable for children and he did not have to rent to her.

Be sure that the managers you hire to represent you are aware of laws and regulations. One such manager was busted by multiple fair housing testers. Allegedly, the apartment manager placed a discriminatory Craigslist ad which included lines like “too many stairs for small children”, and he even told a tester face-to-face that he definitely would never rent to people with children.

Be careful how you word your ads. Another mistake landlords are making is telling renters that children are too noisy for their mature tenants. Even if this is true, it is considered to be in violation of the Fair Housing Act

It may sound easy enough to make reasonable accommodations to a small family but what about a family of 8?  In Florida, one such family caught the eye of a homeowners association. They signed a one-year lease with the owner before the management stated that they have a strict occupancy limit of 6. Three months went by before the family received a letter from the HOA’s attorney telling them they would be evicted. HUD received a complaint, and determined that the family should not be forced to separate over occupancy limits. You can set limits,  but cannot limit the size of a family.

While some occupancy laws are based on local fire codes, many landlords are left to wonder if there is no such thing as too many children.

To avoid discrimination against families, your leasing policies cannot include:

Adults-only policies;

Actions to discourage families with children from renting;

Making available or denying a unit based on the presence of children;

Limits on the ages or number of children allowed in a unit;

Setting different rents and security deposits for families with children;

Restricting families to only certain buildings or floors.

With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our Landlord Forms page.

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