A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced that it was charging two property owners and two employees at a multifamily property in Kansas with violating the Fair Housing Act (FHA). In the case, HUD asserts that the defendants engaged in familial status discrimination by terminating the lease of a resident who asked if her grandchild could be permitted to live with her.
HUD learned of the case when a female resident filed a complaint asserting the owners of her apartment complex in Wichita terminated her lease after asking if she could add a granddaughter to the lease. The grandmother, it is claimed, had only recently obtained custody of the child. HUD’s complaint alleges that the property manager said that the request “may be a problem” and that the owners “doesn’t want kids on the property.” Finally, HUD asserts that the owners gave notice that the apartment complex was going to terminate the lease of another family with a child at approximately the same time.
As I acknowledge when reporting on new cases, there are always two sides to every story and just because a complaint has been filed does not mean that the defendant is liable for any conduct. What this complaint teaches, however, is that in most multifamily circumstances, management cannot simply terminate a lease because a resident either has a child or obtains custody of a child. If you feel like a unit at your community is too small to add another occupant, I suggest you speak with a lawyer like me to review the federal law concerning occupancy standards as well as any state, city, or county ordinances.
Now, this new case was filed on January 17, 2017. I am checking to see what gets filed by the new administration. I will be certain to report back.
Just A Thought.