Fair Housing vs. Unfair Housing

Do you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between fair housing and unfair housing isn't as obvious as you might think. This blog aims to present a variety of important and interesting fair housing issues.

If you're an apartment professional, avoid costly mistakes by reading the stories of others who — even with good intentions — learned compliance lessons the hard way. (For the easy way, click here.)

If you live in an apartment, get familiar with your rights when it comes to housing discrimination, as well as your options for seeking justice.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Familial Status Definition Shows Its Breadth

If you're wondering what the Fair Housing Act's (FHA) ban on familial status is all about, the short answer is that it aims to protect people who have at least one child under 18 living with them. But the law defines "familial status" broadly, making clear that the protection "shall apply to any person who... is in the process of securing legal custody" of any such child.

A mother of seven in Las Vegas, Nevada is no doubt happy about that. Last December, she applied to rent a four-bedroom house for herself and three of her four biological children (the fourth being away at school). The landlord's broker thought that would be fine. But when the mother then added that she's in the process of adopting three more children, the broker said enough's enough — even though the house apparently could legally accommodate them all.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently charged the landlords and the broker with familial status discrimination. They now risk that an administrative law judge may order them to pay damages and a civil penalty.

Interesting to note:
  • The landlord instead rented the house to a family with one child. So, this case also illustrates that it's possible to violate the FHA's ban on familial status discrimination even if a landlord denies one family with children in favor of another.


Anonymous said...

Is it also against the fair housing act for a property management company to deny me a rental because I don't have children? There is no state or local zoning for 'family' housing for the unit in question.

Anonymous said...

What about offering a different deal to families than you do for single folks, or even a married couple with no children. Are you in effect inadvertantly discriminating against families with children when you offer one deal to single folks, and another deal to folks with kids?

keeta said...

I just recently applied to an apartment and got denied. the reason I got denied was because of my background. my background shows 3 cases that , not only am I innocent for, but were thrown out. they continued to say the situation still happen so we can't accept you as a future tenant. I was blown away by what was being said to me. I was being told that I couldn't move in the building for something that the judge by law found me innocent for. is this right ?