is it legal for an apartment to have rules that require parents to supervise children while playingdiscrimination against children, kids
can rules prohibit children from playing outside

 

Testimonials

Select a Question
- What if a tenant signs a lease that says that children cannot play outside of their apartment? Is this legal?
- Discrimination Against Families with Children: Is it illegal?
- Can An Apartment Require Families With Children To Live In A Particular Section of the Complex?
- Can An Apartment Refuse to Allow Children to Play Outside?

- Can a landlord prohibit children from playing outside if he applies the rule to all tenants, not just children?

- What if I signed a lease and agreed to abide by the apartment rules which prohibit children from playing outside?
- Is an Apartment Complex Allowed to Make Rules Just for Kids?
- Can I be evicted for my kids being too loud?
- How Strict Can An Apartment's Rules Be Against Children?
- Can An Apartment Require Families With Children To Live In A Particular Section of the Complex?
- Can an Apartment Complex Rent to Adults Only?
- How Do I Know If I Have Been Discriminated Against?
- What Does the Fair Housing Act Prohibit?

What if a tenant signs a lease that says that children cannot play outside of their apartment? Is this legal?

No. A "tenant's rights" include the right to be free from discrimination against their kids. Unfortunately, tenants are illegally subjected to eviction by their landlord due to their race (racial discrimination) or due to the fact that they have children. In virtually every case, it is illegal for a landlord to penalize, give warning notices, or evict families due to the fact that their kids play outside, make noise, run, ride bikes, throw balls, or play with toys in the common area of the apartment or condominium rental property. This is true even if the parents signed a lease which promised that they would not let their children play outside at the apartment or condominium complex. A landlord can never require children to remain indoors even if the tenant signed a lease which agreed to this fact. Although an apartment complex may desire peace and quiet, it is unlawful to require families to force their children to remain inside to accomplish this end. Also, rules that target kids are almost always illegal, however, parents rarely hire an attorney to challenge such unlawful apartment rules. By the same token, a condominium association's covenants, codes, and restrictions which place limits on children (e.g. a curfew or noise level aimed at kids) is illegal and unenforceable. As it stands, families of all races, African American (Black), Mexican (Hispanic), Asian, and Caucasian (White), are unfortunately being subject to apartment or condominium rules which require them to keep their minor son, daughter, nephew, niece, or grand kids inside or which refuse to allow these kids to play in a reasonable manner. This is not the appropriate life for a child, nor for his mother or father.

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Discrimination Against Families with Children: Is it illegal?

It is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to a single parent or family with children. For example, a single woman applies to rent a one bedroom apartment with her six year old daughter. The landlord tells her that children have to have their own bedroom, so they cannot rent the one bedroom apartment. The landlord has just discriminated against this woman because of the fact that she had a child.

Another example, a landlord declines to rent an apartment to a single male, saying that he doesn't want the rental to become a bachelor pad. The landlord prefers to rent to a family. The landlord has just discriminated against this man.

Another example, a landlord tells a family with children that he does not want to rent an upstairs apartment to them because children are too noisy when they live upstairs. This is illegal as a landlord cannot refuse to rent any portion of a complex to a family.

Another example, a landlord only permits families with children to live in a certain portion of the complex. This is illegal as a landlord cannot force families with children to live solely in a predetermined area. Families are permitted to live in any area of a complex, even if other tenants think that they will be noisy.

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Example of Discrimination Because of Race or Color: An African American man sees a "for rent" sign out in front of an apartment complex. As such, he asks if he can see the apartment, but the manager tells him that the apartment was just rented. Two days later, the African American man again sees the same "for rent" sign out in front of an apartment complex, so he again asks if he can see the apartment, but the manager again tells him that the apartment was just rented. As a result, the African American man calls a white friend and asks him if he will pretend like he wants to rent the apartment. The white friend agrees, and goes over to the apartment. The white friend is told by the same manager that there is an available apartment for rent. The African American man has been the victim of unlawful racial discrimination in housing.

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Can An Apartment Require Families With Children To Live In A Particular Section of the Complex?

No. This is a completely illegal practice, but it happens all of the time. It is illegal for a landlord to segregate families with children into one particular area of the complex. Likewise, it is illegal for a landlord to prohibit families with children from living in a particular section of the complex, such as upstairs or in the "quiet area" of the complex. The law requires ALL tenants to put up with some noise from children, even if they don't like it.

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Can An Apartment Refuse to Allow Children to Play Outside?

A landlord cannot require children to remain indoors. If a landlord requires a tenant to keep their children locked up indoors at all times, then this is illegal. A landlord may not penalize families who allow their children to play outdoors at the apartment complex. It is illegal for a landlord to claim that the peace and quiet of the tenants requires that children not play outside. Simply put, children are allowed to play outside and they may make reasonable noise while doing so. If a family is punished for their children acting like normal children (e.g. the kids aren't lighting fire crackers or playing drums in the open courtyard), then this is illegal discrimination.

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Can a landlord prohibit children from playing outside if he applies the rule to all tenants, not just children?

A: No. Some landlords attempt to discriminate against children, however, they are afraid to draft rules that specifically single-out children. To make it appear that they are not specifically discriminating against children, they will draft rules that appear to be neutral. For example, rather than having a rule that says, “Children are not allowed to play in the common area” the rule, instead, will say, “Tenants are not allowed to play in the common area.”This makes it appear that the ostensibly neutral rule is not aimed at kids, as it is written so that it applies to all residents. In most cases, this is an attempt to hide the fact that the landlord is actually trying to prevent children from playing. Fortunately, Court’s don’t look at the specific words used in a rule, but, rather, look to see whether the rule disproportionately affects children. If a rule disproportionately affects children when applied, then it is considered to be discriminatory. For example, a rule that says, “No resident can play outside” would be discriminatory since children would be the group that is primarily affected by this rule.

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What if I signed a lease and agreed to abide by the apartment rules which prohibit children from playing outside?

You will be relieved to know that the law will not require you to abide by illegal apartment rules simply because you signed a lease agreeing to do so. If an apartment rule violates the law, then tenants are NEVER required to abide by the rules even if they signed a lease agreeing to do so. An apartment rule is always illegal if it violates anti-discrimination laws. If the landlord tries to evict you for refusing to follow an illegal apartment rule, then he has committed housing discrimination.
Let's make it more obvious with a clearer example. Assume that a tenant signs a lease and agrees to abide by an apartment rule that says, "No tenant in the complex may bring Mexican friends to the complex." This rule would clearly be illegal and the law would never permit a landlord to enforce such a rule. The landlord cannot avoid the law by saying, "My tenant signed the lease and agreed to abide by this rule." The tenant has no obligation to abide by this rule.

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Is an Apartment Complex Allowed to Make Rules Just for Kids?

In most cases, no. The Fair Housing Act states that it is unlawful for a landlord or owner to make or print any rules that indicates any limitation or discrimination based on familial status. In other words, your landlord cannot make rules that unfairly effect families with children. For example, it is illegal for an apartment complex to have rules that prohibit children living upstairs, from swimming in the pool, from playing with toys or riding bikes on the premises, or rules that prohibit children from crying loudly. In short, any rule that singles out children may be considered illegal and discrimination against families that have children.

Example of Discriminatory Rules Against Children: If an apartment complex were to pass out a rule which said that all children under the age of 16 must be in their apartments by 7 p.m. or their parents may be evicted, then this would violate the Fair Housing Act, for the rule indicates a limitation or discrimination based on the age of the children. In other words, the rule only applies to children.

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Can I be evicted for my kids being too loud?

No and yes. No, you cannot be evicted if your kids make normal kid noises during normal hours (usually between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.). It is perfectly okay for kids to run, laugh, giggle, and make some noise inside and outside of their apartment. However, you can be evicted if your kids make unusually loud noises at odd hours. Your landlord cannot ask your kids to quiet at all times. However, you can be evicted if your kids make unusually loud noises at odd hours, such as playing drums at 1 a.m. or turning on the stereo full blast at midnight.

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How Strict Can An Apartment's Rules Be Against Children?

It is a common misconception that an apartment complex can make rules against children. This is completely false, however, it happens all of the time. In rare situations, apartments can make some, limited rules against children. Absent the rare situation, it is illegal for apartments to have rules which prohibit children from playing outside, riding bikes, playing with toys, laughing, screaming, or having fun.

The only time that an apartment can make rules against children is if there is a potential danger to children and the rule isn't too broad. For example, it would be okay for an apartment to have a rule that says, "No children under 5 years of age in the pool without a parent." This rule is reasonable and protects the child. However, it would be illegal if the rule said, "No children under 17 years of age may be in the pool without an adult." This rule is much too broad, as some children under 17 years might not need assistance.

It is always illegal for an apartment to have rules which state, in effect, that children are not allowed to play, walk, sit, stand, or talk in the common areas. In other words, it is illegal to require children to stay indoors. This is true even if children cause noise. The law realizes that children make noise and requires society to put up with this noise, provided that the children aren't being unreasonably loud. For example, it would be okay for an apartment to prohibit children from playing drums or playing their radio very loudly. However, it would be illegal for an apartment to penalize children for laughing, talking loudly, or getting excited in public. Although a landlord may want a quiet complex, the law does not permit it. Rather, the law requires all complexes to accept reasonable noise from children. By the way, if a landlord threatens or attempts to evict a person because their children made reasonable noise, then this would be discrimination.

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Can An Apartment Require Families With Children To Live In A Particular Section of the Complex?

No. This is a completely illegal practice, but it happens all of the time. It is illegal for a landlord to segregate families with children into one particular area of the complex. Likewise, it is illegal for a landlord to prohibit families with children from living in a particular section of the complex, such as upstairs or in the "quiet area" of the complex. The law requires ALL tenants to put up with some noise from children, even if they don't like it.

Can an Apartment Complex Rent to Adults Only?

In very rare cases, a complex can refuse to rent to families with children. However, this is an extremely rare situation and will be discussed at the end of this section. In the vast majority of case, however, it is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent an apartment, condominium, or house to somebody because they have children. If they refuse to do so, then they are guilty of discrimination even if the landlord appears to have a good excuse.

For example, a landlord might state, "We don't allow families with children because most of our tenants work at night and sleep during the day and kids would wake them up." It would be illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent based upon this excuse.

As for the exception, if a community is a retirement community and is officially designated as "Over 55" or "Senior Housing," then children may be excluded. It is very easy to spot such communities. These communities must prominently display the fact that they are "Over 55" or "Senior Housing." If a community doesn't classify as such, then they have no legal right to exclude children.

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How Do I Know If I Have Been Discriminated Against?

Sometimes, you won't have a clue that you have been discriminated against. Nevertheless, be suspicious if you hear the following statements:

1. "I'm sorry, but after you called, I rented that apartment to someone else."

2. "Sorry, but we do not have a waiting list."

3. "I cannot let you look at the apartment until you show me your green card."

4. "There is an additional charge for each child who will live with you."

5. "This building is for adults only."

6. "We cannot have any handicap people living here, for we don't have the proper facilities."

7. "For safety's sake, we don't allow families with small children to live upstairs."

8. "Sorry, but we don't allow college students to live here."

9. "I don't really want all those changes--a ramp, grab bars--that simply is too much."

10. "Perhaps you would find it more comfortable living down the street."

What Does the Fair Housing Act Prohibit?

The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental, or in the terms, conditions, or privileges of a dwelling because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (i.e., families with children under the age of 18), or handicap.

It is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent an apartment, condominium, or home to somebody because that person will have children living with them or due to their race. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant due to the fact that the tenant has children.

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