tenants threatened with eviction for allowing children to playdiscrimination against children, kids

 

Discrimination Against Families with Children #2

Select a Question

- Can my landlord require me to supervise my children when they are    outside?
- Does a landlord’s concern over liability or fear of getting sued, allow a landlord to require children to be supervised?
- Can a landlord refuse to allow children to play with toys or play outside because he is worried about liability or is fearful of getting sued?
- Can my landlord prohibit teenagers from socializing?
- Is it permissible to have adult-only swimming hours or Jacuzzi time?
- Can my landlord evict me if my kids make too much noise while playing inside the apartment?
- Does the peace and quiet of the community allow the landlord to prevent kids from playing outside?
 

Can my landlord require me to supervise my children when they are outside?

No. The law doesn't allow a landlord to require children to be supervised when outside unless it there is a compelling reason to justify such. A "compelling reason" is not something trivial such as the landlord’s desire for peace and quiet. Rather, a compelling reason is something that likely posed imminent danger to the child if the child wasn’t supervised, such as requiring supervision of young kids in a pool. In this situation, there is a very present danger. Otherwise, the landlord cannot require supervision of kids because he doesn’t want kids running around unattended. A parent is free to allow their children to play outside unsupervised even if the landlord doesn’t think this is good parenting. With this in mind, it is illegal for a landlord to require children to be supervised while playing in the common areas because a young child "might" wonder off or fall and hurt themselves. Unless the danger is clearly real and obvious, then a landlord cannot require supervision of a child. A landlord's fear of "liability" or concern that a child might get hurt if unsupervised is not legal grounds to permit him to require tenants to supervise their children. The landlord must leave such decisions to the parent. As one court has noted, "Safety judgments are for informed parents to make, not landlords."

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Does a landlord’s concern over liability or fear of getting sued, allow a landlord to require children to be supervised?

No. Neither is a legitimate reason to require supervision. Every business in the country is fearful of these two things, but that does not mean that it can run roughshod over a person’s legal rights. By the same token, federal and state fair housing laws expressly protect the rights of families and children to be free from discrimination against children. By law, children are allowed to play outside just so long as there isn’t a compelling reason that would require supervision. A landlord’s personal fear of liability does not qualify as a compelling reason that would allow him to usurp a family’s federal and state fair housing rights. A compelling reason usually deals with a true, dangerous situation if the child is left alone, such as small children swimming in a pool unattended. If the landlord truly has a legitimate safety concern that he is trying to address, then he must take careful precautions to narrowly tailor a rule that will deal very specifically with a limited problem. For example, if the landlord is worried about young children drowning in the pool, then it is perfectly okay to have a rule that says, "Children under 14 must be supervised while swimming." However, the landlord goes too far if, in an effort to solve this problem, he creates a rule that says, "No children are allowed to play outside at anytime." Yes, this would also solve the problem, but the rule is too broad.

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Can a landlord refuse to allow children to play with toys or play outside because he is worried about liability or is fearful of getting sued?

No. By law, children are allowed to play outside unless there is a compelling reason to prohibit it, such as there being a real and present danger if the child is allowed to play with toys. A landlord’s fear of getting sued does not give him the right to cancel out such rights. Courts are concerned about actual, real danger, not possible dangers that can occur. For example, there is clearly a risk if children are allowed to shoot bb guns, hit hard baseballs, or throw lawn darts in the common areas, as an injury could easily occur. Obviously, a landlord can prohibit such activities. However, there is no such risk if children toss sponge balls, blow bubbles, play hopscotch, or play badminton. There is no risk with these activities. A manager cannot prohibit kids from engaging in such activities.

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Can my landlord prohibit teenagers from socializing?

No. If the rule is specifically aimed at teenagers (e.g. the rule says, "No teenagers may loiter on the premises") then the rule is illegal. The landlord is required to treat teenagers equal to adults. A landlord cannot make rules that single-out teenagers. By the same token, the landlord cannot refuse to allow teenagers to visit an apartment, simply because he is worried about them "causing trouble." Teenagers cannot be singled out. They must be treated equally as adults.

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Is it permissible to have adult-only swimming hours or Jacuzzi time?

No. It is illegal to exclude children from the pool at anytime while the pool is open. A complex cannot set aside time for adults only. It is also illegal to exclude children from the Jacuzzi, unless the child is physically too young to sit in a Jacuzzi. The pool and Jacuzzi must be accessible to children during the same hours that it is accessible to adults. The law does not permit a landlord to make separate rules for children, no matter how convenient it might be to adults. A child can only be excluded if it would clearly be too dangerous for the child to use the facility. Likewise, although landlords may not want teenagers hanging out in the Jacuzzi, he cannot exclude them from such.                

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Can my landlord evict me if my kids make too much noise while playing inside the apartment?

No. Your landlord will probably be surprised to learn that he cannot tell your children to quit playing inside of the apartment. Federal and state fair housing laws expressly require apartment dwellers to put up with normal, reasonable noise from children. This noise would clearly include noise made by children while playing in an apartment, provided that their conduct isn’t overtly unreasonable (e.g. jumping off their beds at 1 a.m., or playing the stereo on high late at night) . The manager cannot evict you if your kids have been making normal noises while playing inside your apartment, such as laughing, giggling, or rolling on the floor. To do so is illegal. The law does NOT make another tenant’s desire for peace and quiet paramount to your children's right to play in their apartment. To the contrary, the law expressly states that a desire for peace and quiet is NOT grounds for making rules against children. Children make noise. That’s part of being a kid. The law requires landlords and tenants to put up with such noises. This would include allowing kids to play around inside their apartment at reasonable hours even if another tenant complains.

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Does the peace and quiet of the community allow the landlord to prevent kids from playing outside?

No. The law requires tenants to put up with reasonable noises made by children. The law expressly states that a desire for peace and quiet is NOT grounds for making rules against children. Children make noise. That’s part of being a kid. The law requires landlords and tenants to put up with such noises. It is illegal to attempt to silence children so that others will not have to deal with their noise. Any rule that attempts to do so is illegal and unenforceable. As such, a landlord cannot prohibit children from playing hopscotch, Barbies or dolls, hand held video games, reading books, or tossing soft balls. On the other hand, the landlord can prohibit unreasonable noise or potentially harmful conduct. Along these lines, the landlord could prohibit children from playing with hard balls, from throwing darts, or from playing drums or making noise at an unreasonable hour.

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