Do Your House Rules Discriminate Against Families with Children?

In separate cases, rental communities in Kansas and Missouri and a condominium community in Minnesota recently agreed to pay a combined $280,000 to settle allegations of discrimination against families with children in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

In one case, the Justice Department sued the owners and operators of communities in Kansas and Missouri, accusing them of enforcing policies that unreasonably restricted the activities of children, including a policy that required that anyone under the age of 16 be physically accompanied by an adult at all times. The case arose from a HUD complaint filed by a family who claimed that they were forced to move after complaining about the policies. Under the settlement, the community agreed to pay $60,000 to the family; $100,000 into a victim fund to compensate other aggrieved families; and $10,000 as a civil penalty.

In the other case, the Justice Department sued a Minnesota condominium community for allegedly enforcing rules in a manner that prevented children from equal enjoyment of common areas and making statements that indicated a preference against families with children. The complaint alleged that the community required children to be supervised at all times when in a common area, prohibited or unreasonably restricted children from using the common areas, and selectively enforced the common-area rules by issuing warnings and violation notices to residents with children, but not to adult residents engaging in the same activities. Under the settlement, the community agreed to pay $100,000 to six families involved in the case, along with a $10,000 civil penalty.

To help make sure your house rules and employees don’t run afoul of the Fair Housing Act’s familial status protections, see “What NOT to Do When Dealing with Families with Children,” available to subscribers here.