A fair housing issue that can cause unintended problems for management is the intersection of the inclusion of familial status as a protected class and certain housing limited to older persons. On its face, the provisions seem to conflict. On the one hand, management can get sued for prohibiting (or even appearing to discourage) families with children from applying. Yet on the other hand, certain communities are designated as housing for older persons. Here is a quick summary of the law on this point:
Under our Fair Housing Act (FHA), it is illegal to limit the admission of children into your community. This includes a prohibition on restricting families with children to certain floors or specific buildings in a community. There is an exception in the law which provides that if a community is designated as “housing for older persons” or “designated senior housing” there can be restrictions on kids. There are three general categories of such housing for older persons: (a) housing provided under specific state or federal programs; (b) housing intended for persons 62 years of age or older (in that all residents must be at least age 62) or (c) what happens most commonly, “55 and older” designated senior communities.
In the 55 and older communities, at least 80% of the housing units must have at least one resident aged 55 or older. To operate under the provision in the law, the community is required to demonstrate its intent to exist as senior housing in all of its advertising, lease provisions, rules, and practices. The community must track (typically be means of a survey) its resident composition on a regular basis (defined to be at least once every two years). If it is determined that the number of units with someone 55 or older falls below the 80% level, the community can no longer be designated as senior housing. What I have found is that in practice it is hard for an existing non-senior community to convert to becoming senior housing.
You should be able to easily identify if a community holds itself out as housing for older persons. If you do not see such promotional materials, it is likely the property has not sought such a designation and the FHA protection for families with children is in place. Hope that makes sense.
Just A Thought.