Here is a “familial status”  issue that I was recently asked about.  In our Fair Housing Act (FHA) regulated world, “familial status” is a protected class which is designed to ensure that families with children are treated equally in all areas of our housing operations.

Consider these two sets of community rules:

A.  “No toys shall be left in the apartment complex common areas”  and “Children must not loiter in the community parking lots.”

And contrast those rules with the two below:

B.  “No resident belongings shall be left in the apartment complex common areas”  and “No one is permitted to loiter in the community parking lots.”

Do you see any meaningful difference?  The top two policies are specifically directed toward children and can form the basis of a fair housing complaint as a family could well take the position that their son and/or daughter is being treated differently and not being permitted to enjoy the full benefit of their housing.  Think I am overreaching?  Think again.  Policies such as these, even if done with the best of intentions (such as safety), can run into trouble if it is perceived that management is somehow targeting children and/or families with children.  

Does that mean management cannot implement rules designed to keep parking lots safe and common areas clear from clutter?  Of course not.  The lower two policies accomplish the same type of community policy goals – but do so in a way as to avoid the issue of a policy which is specifically directed at children.    

Just A Thought.