Property Management Firm Faces Fair Housing Complaint About Occupancy Standards

Fair housing advocates in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio recently filed a fair housing complaint against a large regional property management company, alleging systemic discrimination against families with children across 20 properties evaluated in three states. The lawsuit accused the Indianapolis-based property management company, which owns and operates more than 8,000 rental housing units in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Alabama, of applying overly restrictive occupancy standards to unlawfully deny housing to families with children.

According to the complaint, the company maintained an occupancy standard of no more than two people per bedroom in each apartment or townhome, regardless of the unit’s square footage or whether that unit has a den, office, or other feature that could provide an additional bedroom or living area for a child. Allegedly, the company enforced the policy without regard to local health and property maintenance codes, which set out the square footage required for each occupant.

The fair housing organizations reportedly conducted a joint systemic investigation into the company’s properties located in their respective states. In each of the 20 properties named in the complaint, the testing allegedly showed that the company denied housing to families with children, even though the units had ample square footage for the family size to be allowed by local codes. As a result, the complaint alleged not only that families were prohibited from living in particular units, but also that many were denied from the complex all together due to their family size.

In the August lesson, Fair Housing Coach reviews fair housing laws banning discrimination against families with children. Among other things, the lesson explains how even neutral community policies, such as occupancy standards and rules governing behavior in common areas, can lead to fair housing trouble. The August lesson, "Play by the Rules When It Comes to Kids and Their Families," is available to subscribers here.