Even if done for what may appear to be a benign reason, professional apartment management cannot put overly restrictive rules in place which have the look of controlling the free movement of children around the community.  HUD recently announced settlement of a discrimination case in which it was alleged unlawful rules were enacted to the detriment of families with children.  The allegations included that management placed limits on children playing outside as well as a claim that children were forced to clean the manager’s office toilet when the kids were found outside unaccompanied by an adult.

Many times, of course, cases with bad facts are the ones charged.  Here seven families in California filed complaints (along with a nonprofit fair housing advocacy group) with HUD alleging that the community manager cursed at children when he found them playing outside unaccompanied, and then ordered the children to his office and instructed them to sit on the floor.  HUD’s charge further asserted that once at the office, the manager required the children to clean the office toilet and pick up trash around the complex.  He is also alleged to have threatened them by telling the children that their families might be evicted if they did not comply with his instructions. The apartment community also had a rule prohibiting children from using the swimming pool during certain hours.

Pursuant to the agreed settlement terms, the owner and community manager will pay damages to the residents, former residents, the fair housing group.  The community will also provide free rent for a number of months going forward.  The total monetary value of the settlement is approximately $19,000.  Management also agreed to eliminate the rule that restricted pool usage by children during the day and to obtain fair housing training for employees.

While many of the facts here were difficult, I suspect the pool usage restriction was done as what was perceived as a helpful safety measure.  What I have seen, however, is rules that impact kids need to be crafted in such a way as to not single out families with children.  Indeed, drafting pool rules can be one of the areas in which you might want to speak with a lawyer like me.

Just A Thought.