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Family Status Discrimination in Housing

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What is Family Status Discrimination?

Housing discrimination occurs against families when a landlord refuses to rent property to persons because they have children.  This type of housing discrimination is prohibited by the federal government under the Fair Housing Act.  Many states and cities also prohibit landlords from discriminating against families with children.  This does not apply, however, to housing that is designed for the elderly and meets other requirements. 

Who is Protected from Family Status Discrimination?

Under the Fair Housing Act, discrimination against families includes discrimination against the following: 

  • Pregnant women
  • Families with children
  • Persons who are legal guardians for children
  • Persons in the process of getting legal custody of children

How Do I Recognize Family Status Discrimination?

Although it can be overt, discrimination against families is usually subtle, and can take many forms, including: 

  • An adults only provision in the lease
  • Limiting the number of people that can stay in an apartment
  • Restricting the type or location of property that families with children can rent
  • Refusing to rent for safety reasons associated with children
  • Asking about pregnancy, who takes care of the children, or the ages of those who will be living in the property
  • Charging more in rent for children

Do I Need a Lawyer if I am a Victim of Family Status Discrimination?

If you believe a landlord has discriminated against you because your family has children, an experienced real property attorney can advise you about your rights and how to seek a legal remedy.  On the other hand, if you are a landlord, a real property attorney can help you draft rules and policies that comply with the law.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 04-05-2013 02:30 PM PDT

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