New Year's Resolution: Watch How You Treat Families with Children

In January, the Coach kicked off 2018 by offering five New Year’s resolutions to avoid fair housing trouble. Among them: complying with fair housing rules protecting children and their families from housing discrimination.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) bans discrimination based on familial status, which generally applies to households with one or more children under the age of 18. Among other things, you may not restrict where families can live by making certain units, floors, or buildings at your community off-limits to families with children. Limiting a prospect’s housing choices because he or she has one or more children under 18 in the household is a fair housing violation, commonly known as “steering.”

As an example, the Coach highlighted a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department last year accusing the owners and operators of a New Hampshire community of housing discrimination against a family with children. In its complaint, the Justice Department alleged that a mother of an infant child visited the community to inquire about two-bedroom apartments but was told that the community had a policy of placing families with children under the age of 10 in first-floor units only, and that no first-floor units were available.

Update: The case has since been settled. Under the settlement agreement, the community is required to pay $25,000 to the family, draft a new non-discrimination policy that complies with fair housing law, and satisfy fair housing training and reporting requirements.

For more information, see the January 2018 lesson, “Make 5 New Year’s Resolutions to Avoid Fair Housing Trouble in 2018,” available to our subscribers here.