Idaho Landlords Charged with Discriminating Against Families with Children

HUD recently charged the owners and manager of a rental home in Idaho with violating fair housing law by refusing to rent the home to a married couple because they have children.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to deny or limit housing because a family has children under the age of 18, make statements that discriminate against families with children, and impose different rules, restrictions, and policies on them.

The case came to HUD's attention when a mother of seven saw an ad on Craigslist for a rental home for $1,200 a month that consisted of 2,600 square feet, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two living rooms, and two bonus rooms. HUD’s charge alleges that the woman called the property manager, who is also the owners’ son, to inquire about the home and was told that the property was available. The manager also stated that the lease required that the first month's rent of $1,200 be paid, along with a $1,000 deposit and a $200 payment toward the last month’s rent.

The charge further claims that a day later, the couple, accompanied by two of their children, went to view the property, fill out the rental application, and pay the required deposits. They met with the property manager, who asked them if the two children with them were the couple’s only children. According to the charge, when the woman replied that she and her husband have seven children, the manager immediately gestured that she should stop completing the application and told her that he didn’t want to waste their time, as the owners had set a four-children limit for the home. When the mother later sent a text message to the manager stating that the law generally allows two people per room, so the house has more than enough space, the manager allegedly replied, “Sorry, I’m just following the contract my parents have written out.”

The charge will be heard by an administrative law judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court. The charge contains allegations of unlawful conduct; the allegations must be proven in further proceedings.

“Denying a couple a place to live because they have children robs them of the opportunity to establish a stable home for their family and is a violation of the law,” Anna María Farías, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. "Today’s action reinforces HUD’s commitment to protecting the right of every home seeker to obtain housing, regardless of their family make-up.”