Okay to Limit Families to “First Floor Only”?

by Chris on September 6, 2010

“The days of routine ’No Children’ rental policies are over,” states John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act prohibits them and HUD will enforce the law to protect the rights of families with children.”

This statement was made in response to a case just filed against an Ohio landlord who allegedly refused to rent some apartments to families with small children, and limited others to the ground floor only.

According to the charges,  a single mother with two young children responded to an advertisement for a two-bedroom apartment. After she disclosed that she had children, the landlord refused to allow her to tour the property or complete a rental application. From there, the Fair Housing Advocates Association, a local non-profit fair housing organization, conducted three telephone tests. During the telephone tests, the landlord allegedly made statements indicating a preference against renting to families with young children and refused to rent to the tester based on the age of the children present in the household.

HUD’s investigation also revealed that the complex had an unwritten restriction limiting families with children to units on the ground level.

If convicted on these charges, the landlord could face an award of damages caused by the discrimination such as the tenant having to find an apartment farther from work or at a higher cost, sensitivity training, payment of the opposing attorneys’ fees and additional fines. If the case proceeds to federal court, punitive damages may also be awarded.

FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate more than 10,000 housing discrimination complaints annually.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

bjk September 7, 2010 at 8:06 am

In NJ, apt with children above the first floor must have bars on the windows to avoid fall by children. It is my understandind that since I do not have bars on the 2nd or 3rd floor widows of a 5 fam house, that children may not reside there.
Pls comment

Chris September 21, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I also rent in NJ. It is my understanding that you need to offer the bars, but it is not necessary to put them on if the tenant does not request them. I have a clause in my lease stating that they are available upon request, and I have a part where the tenant initials to prove I have offered them. I would be interested to get clarity on this also.

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