Property Owners: Are You Discriminating Against Renters With Kids?

If you’re an owner of rental real estate, it’s likely you’ll at some point have families with children living on your property. Some property owners might be concerned about the possible damage that children are more likely to cause. Under the Fair Housing Act, you are not allowed to discriminate against applicants based on the state of their families. This includes discouraging renters from renting or dismissing children-containing families to a certain area of a complex. You also cannot discriminate against pregnant women or those attempting to gain custody of a child.

For these reasons, you’ll want to be cautious not to say or advertise anything that could be interpreted as discrimination against those with children. It can be easy to accidentally do this, so below are some tips for avoiding unintended discrimination. If you’re still feeling unsure, a property manager can often help prevent chances of unforeseen violations.

Avoiding Discrimination Through Marketing

Owners of rental property have easily found themselves in legal trouble through sloppily written online ads. To give an obvious example, it’s advisable to not blatantly say that no kids are allowed to live on the property.

However, even more subtle suggestions can be risky. For example, even saying “idea for couples,” “perfect for college students,” or “couples or singles only” can still potentially get you into trouble. Although not outright discrimination against children, the suggestion is still there, which could lead to prosecution for overt discrimination. You could also end up with fair housing testers at your property, who will speak with you pretending to be interested applicants. If they have any feelings of discrimination, it could be reported directly to the district attorney’s office.

No matter what types of tenants you’re hoping to attract, it’s important to be very careful about wording, especially when advertising your property. To be completely sure what is acceptable in your area, consult with your property management company.

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