A Texas landlord and property management company are facing a discrimination lawsuit over restrictions they placed on children.
Those restrictions resulted in the manager levying a fine of $250 — one half of one month’s rent — on the parents of two children, ages 5 and 7. The children were being supervised by other adults while they played at the property, but the owner had adopted a policy that children needed to be supervised at all times by blood relatives. The family was threatened with eviction if the fine was not paid immediately.
HUD brought a lawsuit on behalf of the family. The complaint alleges that the owner and management company adopted house rules governing common areas that were discriminatory, including:
A curfew on children under 18 being allowed in common areas at night unless accompanied by an adult;
Restrictions on pool use for anyone under 18 without supervision by “parents or guardians” or an adult authorized in writing to supervise;
A mandate that tenants with children must ensure children never leave apartments “unnoticed” by using “keyless deadbolts, pin locks and window latches”;
A requirement that all children be supervised by blood relatives; and
Imposing fines and threatening police intervention for violations.
Enforcing different rules and restrictions on families because they have children is a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Anna María Farías comments, “Families shouldn’t be penalized for letting their kids be kids.”
If the lawsuit is successful, the landlord and manager could be ordered to pay damages — including punitive damages — to the tenants, a civil penalty to the government, and may be required to adopt new policies, undergo fair housing training, and report periodically to HUD.
J. Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel adds, “HUD will continue to take action to protect the rights of families.”
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