In a case resolved last month, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) announced it settled a housing discrimination complaint for $16,000 against a property management company asserting familial status discrimination.

The complaint was filed by a family of four who alleged that management did not allow them to rent an apartment in a building because the property manager did not consider children to be appropriate residents. Specifically, the manager was alleged to have stated that the apartment home might be overcrowded with four people, that neighbors might have issues with noise because of kids, and that the building was for “business people.”

After its investigation, DFEH found probable cause to believe discrimination took place and a civil complaint was filed in California state court. The case settled prior to trial, with the defendant agreeing to pay $12,500 to the family and $3,500 to DFEH for litigation costs. As is common in these cases, a provision in the settlement agreement requires that property management employees enroll in fair housing training and that management prepare an equal housing opportunity policy.

This case is yet another reminder that in most circumstances, leasing office team members must welcome families with children. Can there be reasonable occupancy requirements? Sure. Can eight people fit in a one bedroom apartment home?  Most likely not.  Can you limit your building to “adults only” as existed in the past? No.

Now, when a case like this is filed, I get questions concerning if there is an exception in the law.  To that end, I will post a Fair Housing Defense blog entry next month with a short primer on the Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) and provide a short outline of the law surrounding HOPA and buildings that operate under HOPA for those age 55 and up.

Just A Thought.