COACH's Pop Quiz!

Q: You could trigger a discrimination complaint if you post an ad online that says, “No Teenagers Please.” True or false?


A: True, you could trigger a discrimination complaint by posting an ad that says, “No Teenagers Please.”

That’s exactly what happened, according to a HUD charge recently filed against a New Orleans landlord. HUD says the case came to its attention when a fair housing organization filed a complaint based on testing it conducted after spotting the ad on Craigslist. The complaint alleged that when testers contacted the owner to inquire about the unit, the owner allegedly said, “I don’t want any children. I don’t want teenaged children.”

The charge will be heard by a U.S. administrative law judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court.

Federal fair housing law prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing because a family has children under the age of 18. It’s also unlawful to make statements that discriminate against families with children by publishing print, broadcast, or Internet ads that indicate a preference or otherwise discriminate against families with children. Housing may exclude children only if it meets the exemption for housing for older persons under fair housing law.

"Landlords do not have the right to deny a family a place to live just because they have children,” Anna María Farías, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. "Today’s enforcement action reaffirms HUD’s commitment to ensuring that housing providers meet their obligation to treat all applicants for housing the same, including families with children.”

To learn more about the Dos & Don’ts of advertising online, see the Coach’s September lesson, “How to Avoid Discrimination Claims When Advertising Online,” available for download to our subscribers here.

And in a recent webinar, attorney Lynn M. Wilson discussed how some communities have run afoul of the Fair Housing Act’s ban on discriminatory advertising online—and explains how to avoid having discrimination claims arise from your online advertising. To download a recording of the webinar, “How to Avoid Discrimination Claims When Advertising Online,” here.