What should you consider when renting to families with children?

You should consult with a lawyer to determine whether there are additional state or local anti-discrimination laws in your community.

How should you determine max occupancy?

Familiarize yourself with applicable laws about maximum occupancy, which may vary depending on the square footage, bedroom size and configuration of your unit. Some landlords and property managers use the Keating Memorandum, a national guideline for occupancy issued by HUD (63 Fed. Reg. 70255), while others use square footage guidance from the Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) code.

Two persons are allowed for each bedroom, subject to some exceptions and limitations. Under this standard, housing providers must consider the following: Whether there state or local laws that set a different standard, the property size and layout, building system capacity, and the age of children.

Whichever rule you use, be sure to standardize and document the policy and familiarize yourself with state and local regulations.

Familial status – that is, the status of a legally recognized relationship between an adult and a child under the age of 18 in the household – is another protected class with important details to be aware of. All properties (other than housing for older persons) are supposed to accommodate children. If you recommend specific apartments to families with children, you’re steering them to or away from particular units and this is a form of discrimination. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, one-third of renters (33%) live with children, so it’s important to keep these guidelines in mind:

Who is exempt from fair housing laws?

Fair housing laws apply to all single-family homes and multifamily dwellings, but there may be Fair Housing Act and state law exemptions for landlords and property managers although generally, discriminatory advertising is always illegal. In limited circumstances, exemptions are available if:

Fair Housing Act exemptions to “housing for older persons”

Under the Fair Housing Act, multifamily properties that constitute “housing for older persons” are allowed to refuse to rent to families with minor children. This includes properties where all units are occupied by persons age 62 or older and at least 80% of all units are occupied by at least one person age 55 or older.

Certain other conditions may be required. Consult with an attorney to ensure your property adheres to these requirements and related state and local laws.

What do fair housing laws prohibit?

The laws were created to ensure that “every neighborhood is a place of opportunity” and to prevent discrimination and segregation based on someone’s inclusion in protected classes. Fair housing laws for apartments and other rentals prohibit landlords and property managers from taking any of the following actions because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin.

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